Category Archives: Japan Fireworks

Yodogawa Fireworks Festival

Fireworks festivals in Summer are not normally the ‘done thing’ here in the UK, but in Osaka, Japan this is when they hold the world’s biggest and most popular firework festival. The main summer event is held in Osaka on the Yodogawa River and was started by volunteers in 1989 using handmade fireworks crafted especially for the event. This is a tradition that is still carried on today and brings not only a big display but a more one of a kind and dynamic firework display to be enjoyed by all.

Osaka is known as the city of water due to the number of rivers passing through the area, the best known of which is the Yodogawa River. This was, therefore, the perfect venue for volunteers who decided to combine all their knowledge and expertise around pyrotechnics and so the firework festival was borne. Each of the display nights can last over 1 hour with combinations of different effects, synchronised to music.

Tickets are available from around 2,500 Yen to get seats to the event also you can pay up to 8,000 Yen per person to get a chance of a prime viewing spot and this also includes a bento (a Japanese lunchbox) and chilled drinks.

Whilst paying is an option, there are plenty of free seating and standing areas around the venue. However, it is recommended that due to the massive number of spectators attending the event that you get there early for your chance to grab a spot as at the height of the event, some 500,000 people are in attendance.

As well as the fireworks display the side streets are lined with and abundance of food stalls named (Yatai or Demise in Chinese) all serving traditional foods. Why not try something different like:

Okonomiyaki- Japanese savoury pancakes that are made with cabbage, pork and cheese topped with a savoury and sweet sauce and mayo

Ikayaki – this is grilled squid on sticks normally washed down with a cup of beer.

And for those who have a sweet tooth there is:

Choco-banana – banana dipped in chocolate (this is only available at the summer festivals in Japan)

Kakigori – Shaved ice, perfect for cooling down on a hot summers day they come in many flavours like strawberry, melon, lemon etc.

The dress code for the event normally consists of men and women dressed in their traditional summer dress of the Yukata. These are a popular choice of dress especially in the summer months as it is the perfect way to keep cool.

The shells that the Japanese use in the displays can range in size from small to the world record-breaking like the Yonshakudama shells that are 1.2 meters in diameter and weigh several hundred kilograms.

The most common shells used are called starmines, as these have a variety of burst patterns. Other unique fireworks include Niagara sparklers that are set under bridges to resemble the famous waterfalls and shaped shells that burst into familiar patterns such as hearts, smiley faces and cartoon characters.

Fireworks normally begin after sunset and can last up to 2 hours long. They are broken down into shorter segments to make for better viewing. The best and longest display on the event is always the finale, making the night sky so bright that it resembles daylight due to the thousands of shells launched into the sky simultaneously.

Due to the popularity of this event, travel agents around the World have now got in on the act and have started offering packages to the event that is all inclusive so that you can avoid the difficulty of crowded transport, seating and viewing areas etc.

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JAPANS MIDSUMMER FIREWORKS

WHAT: JAPAN’S MIDSUMMER FIREWORKS (MATSURI)
WHEN: MID SUMMER FROM LATE JULY TO EARLY SEPTEMBER
WHERE: ACROSS JAPAN
COST: FREE

From late July to early September, the night skies over the whole of Japan will be illuminated with fireworks at some point.

Most of the festivals and events around the country are for the giving of thanks and appreciation for the prosperity in their own regions. On the whole, they will all include fireworks and parades as a matter of course but this is not the end of the matter. Each festival brings in hundreds of thousands of spectators and of course, funding to each area. The parades will generally include the carrying of the local deity (Kami) through the town on a Palanquin – aka Mikoshi (a carried cart). This is the only time of the year when the Kami will leave the shrine.

Most of the festivals include a huge number of fireworks in all forms but there will be a large concentration of the super shells Japan is famous for. There will be food concessions all day, various performances of traditional dance and music and even dragon boat races.

The area of Kyushu for example, where they hold the Sasebo Seaside Festival they launch super shells which have a burst which is more than half a kilometer across reflecting on the water. They also hold a massive ‘tug of war’ competition.

Over in the Nagaoka, the first day of their summer event is dedicated to the 1486 people who lost their lives on 1st August 1945 during the bombing of the area by American allies. There were many more casualties of the war and in fact, Japan lost over 2 million people during the hostilities. The Nagaoka Rehabilitation Festival began one year after the end of the war. During the daytime, they hold a parade where the children of the region carry a wooden statue of Jizo through the village where fresh water is splashed over it for good health. As evening falls, a 25 foot high pyramid created with 3,300 lanterns which look like a giant glowing Christmas tree. The late evening of course, is packed with beautiful fireworks.

feathers fireworks

Over in Huis Ten Bosch, there is the largest Theme Park in Japan which has been operating for more than 20 years. The area has been created to look like a Dutch town. In spring, the area is covered in pink tulips. Come summer, the tulips are replaced by huge yellow sunflowers.

Come the evening, the area becomes a magical Kingdom of Light at around 6.00pm with an organic electroluminescent display (fairy lights to you and I!!) a carriage parade and bright lights illuminate the streets, castles, palaces, canal and of course the Dutch inspired windmills.

Another ‘must see’ is the Night Garden featuring 5000 sunflowers lit by LED lights. Fun is never far away and you can spend the afternoon with the family at the water park which has a huge outdoor pool and two super slides.

Beautiful KujukuShima are a large bunch of small islands off the coast off the Nagasaki Prefecture where there is also an aquarium and you can take a boat tour around the islands. The place is the setting for the opening scenes from Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai.

Of course, as you would expect, the fireworks on display will be nothing short of magnificent, particularly as the Japanese are the masters of the big shell or ‘Warimono’. There are fireworks competition, festivals and displays all over the country from late July through to early September which are mostly for the entertainment of spectators. Collectively, they represent the whole of Japan and individually, they are in support of their local shrines, the people and the individuality of the region.

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HANABI TAIKAI FIREWORK FESTIVALS

WHAT: HANABI TAIKAI FIREWORK FESTIVALS
WHERE: JAPAN
WHEN: ALL SUMMER – MORE INFO HERE

Summertime in Japan is a magical time as the summer firework festivals take place all across Japan.

Japan is made up of 6852 islands, the four largest being Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku so expect to do some travelling to take in the most impressive displays.

The best way to get around Japan is by train with a Suica or Pasmo card. These electronic smart cards are available at all railway stations, kiosks and anywhere you see the cards symbols.

We recommend arriving at the festivals at least two hours before the start to ensure that you gain the best views and to enjoy the numerous food, drink and handicraft vendors who accompany the displays. Highly popular with children at these events are Kakgori (shaved flavoured ice) and Kyngyo Sukui (gold-fish scooping).

Once you have chosen your spot for the show remember that you may be there for some time so it is worth taking something along to help pass the time especially if you have young children, as well as the wait for the show to start, some of the demonstrations can last 1 ½ to 2 hours with up to 15,000 shells being used.

For those who do not want to queue, reserved seat tickets are available for the more popular shows like the Sumida River and Makuhari Beach; prices vary for these seats but are usually around 3,000 yen (approximately £15).

For a fancy seat with arm rests and a table you should expect to pay up to 28,000 yen at the Itabashi Festival. These seats are limited so book well in advance.

Whilst many locals will choose which displays they will be attending well in advance and travel there themselves, another good way for the true firework fanatic is to take up a package tour. The benefits of this arrangement being that you will be ferried to the event in by bus, your seat will have been reserved so no waiting around, most of the tour guides speak English, special arrangement may have been made offering better viewing, food and drinks may be included or even a romantic dinner on board a river boat with the best seat in the house for the firework display.

These displays will feature some of Japan’s cutting edge fireworks, just to give you an idea what to expect, here a nice little piece of video from the Kobe show last year.

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