Category Archives: Japan Fireworks

MITAMA MATSURI 2019

WHAT: MITAMA MATSURI 2019
WHY: SUMMER FESTIVAL
WHEN: SATURDAY 13TH TO TUESDAY 16TH JULY 2019
WHERE: YASUKUNI SHRINE, CHIYODA, TOKYO, JAPAN
COST: FREE TO ATTEND

One of Tokyo’s most popular summer festivals is the Mitama Matsuri, and has been held since 1947. It’s a world-famous attraction with hundreds of thousands of visitors and locals attending the event each year to see the spectacle of the 30,000 lanterns hung on the walkway up to the Yasukuni shrine.

If you want you can hang your own lantern at the shrine, but you must apply for this beforehand, Prices start from 3,000 yen (£22) for a small lantern and 12,000 yen (£88) for a large.

The schedule changes every year, but you can expect live music and theatrical performances, traditional dances and witness the 1st bon odori dance welcoming the spirits of the dead. The festival follows Buddhist tradition of Obon; a celebration to honour spirits and ancestors of the dead, so it will come as a surprise to visitors that you can also find Obake Yashiki (a type of Japanese haunted house) at the festival. Despite seeming rather out of place, they are one of the most popular attractions that are visited during this time.

Amongst the stalls, you won’t find the normal festival fare for sale as this is not allowed in the grounds of the shrine. However, there is a scattering of stalls selling snacks and refreshments. Try some of the local food such as takoyaki (octopus filled ball-shaped dumplings), okonomiyaki (grilled pancake with savory ingredients),) or treat yourself to wattame bagged (candy floss). Along with the food why not try the summertime dress and don a yukata (summer kimono) to keep cool in the summer heat.

The celebration each year fall on the 13th July and runs for 4 days, and to see the mitama matsuri at its best it is in the evening around 6pm. This is when all the 30,000 lanterns are individually lit creating a spectacular approach to the shrine and giving a warm glow to the evening air.

This festival is one of the Capital’s best summer festivals and can become very crowded but is a must-see for an insight into the truly authentic Japanese summer experience, and something that you will never forget.

Between lanterns

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JAPANESE FIREWORKS – HANABI

Fireworks in Japan were originally used to ward off evil spirits much like those used in ancient China but today, fireworks are the mainstay of the Japanese summer with hundreds of shows across Japan throughout July and August. The firework festivals bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors, both local and overseas people to see first hand some of the newest and most spectacular pyrotechnics in the World.

Fireworks Katakai Niigata, Japan

Fireworks in Japan are not typically used for New Year celebrations and in fact, they are rarely used other than for specific events but handheld fireworks, banned here some years ago, are available without any age restrictions but you cannot take them home.

The size of the main product; The Hanabi Shell, differs greatly and usually they start with a 3 or 4 inch mine all the way up to the HUGE beasties like the one which holds the current Guinness World Record for the biggest firework shell which was 48 inches across and weighed an incredible 1204lb!

2013 長岡まつり大花火 Fireworks in Nagaoka Festival

Over in Japan, the majority of firework events are festivals but a couple have a competition incorporated which just adds that special buzz in the air. The biggest of the competitions are held in Omagari and Tsuchiura where they compete for the biggest with the best effect annually.

2015/08/03 長岡まつり大花火大會

Fireworks in China, particularly those around the cities and provinces known for pyro production like Liuyang despatch thousands of containers of fireworks across the world but the Japanese on the other hand consider shell production to be an art form and with this a labour of love rather than as a business so a great deal more care and attention goes into the creation of some absolutely stunning effects, in fact in some cases the shells can take weeks to finish.

Here is a video of some of these spectacular pieces in action – they are just breathtaking:

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YOKOHAMA PORT FESTIVAL 2019

WHAT: YOKOHAMA PORT FESTIVAL
WHEN: SATURDAY 1ST JUNE TO SUNDAY 2ND JUNE 2019
WHERE: RINKO PARK, SOUTH EXIT PLAZA, MINATOMORI, NISHIKU, YOKOHAMA CITY, KANGAWA PREFECTURE
COST: FREE

The port was first opened in June 1859, giving Yokohama foreign shipping rights to countries such as America, Holland, Russia, Britain, and France. At this time, there was no official celebration for the opening, but as the year passed and the port rapidly grew it was decided that on the one-year anniversary that a celebration would take place. Following exponential growth, in 1995 it was established as an annual event which became the official Yokohama Port Festival. The second of June is classed as an official holiday in Yokohama and the celebration attracts over 700,000 visitors over the 2 days; making it the biggest event celebrated at the beginning of the summer in Yokohama.

Everywhere you go throughout summer in Japan you will see festivals of all kinds, and with these, it normally means one thing follows: fireworks. This event is no exception to the rule.

Sparkles in Twilight / Yokohama Port Festival 2015

Yokohama is brimming with tourists’ spots and a stone throw from Tokyo. This was the first established festival to open its doors to foreign visitors over a century ago and the region has benefited massively for this with architecture, new traditions and customs and international music and beer festivals were brought to the people of Japan via this port.

The 2-day event is packed with action and activities to be enjoyed by both the young and old, both off and on the water. Here is a rough guide of what to expect throughout the 2 days:

• DANCE COMPETITION AND DEMONSTRATIONS
• QUIZZES
• MUSIC CONCERTS
• CHOIR
• STAGE SHOWS
• INTERNATIONAL CUISINE CONCESSIONS
• WATER SPORTS
• TRADITIONAL FOOD AND DRINK
• FIREWORKS

The opening of the festival is a concert with local talent performing onstage, along with the performance from professional dancers and children producing dynamic scenes on stage.

The main performance of the festival is “dream of harmony”, 800 people from across Yokohama join and form a choir and treat the visitors to a musical ensemble. In the entertainment experience part of the festival, you can ride a small ship one of the many amphibious boats or buses or give the sea kayaking or stand up paddle boarding a try. If you don’t have your sea legs, there is plenty on dry land to enjoy whilst you watch those brave (or crazy) enough to take part.

The beam spectacle fireworks are the name given to the magnificent fireworks display held on the evening on the 2nd of June. This takes place over the harbour lighting up the skies above. In the 40-minute show, you will be amazed by the musical fireworks, lasers, and lights making this a fantastic end to the evening’s celebrations.

If you fancy a different view on the show, there are also plenty of boats offering evening cruises some with dinner packages to make your day that extra special.

The summer in Japan is packed with firework events so if you can’t get along to see this first-hand but are visiting Japan through the Summer, we feature articles on most of the events taking place so keep an eye on our blogs for more information.

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