Category Archives: Japan Fireworks



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.




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.


Omagari Japanese Fireworks Competition

WHAT: Omagari National Japanese Fireworks Competition.
WHY: It’s a firework shell competition.
WHEN: Saturday 22nd August 2015.
WHERE: On the banks of the Omono-Gawa River, Akita, Japan.
WHAT TIME: Starts in the day around 5:30pm and continues till it gets dark.
BEST VIEWING SPOTS: Along the Marukogawa River – located near the Omagari Station.
ADMISSION COST: Free – but paid seating is also available.

Fireworks have been one of THE most important aspects of the Summer-time in Japan for centuries and there is no sign of this love affair with beautiful pyro ending any time soon.

Throughout the Summer there are firework festivals across the country as each region holds their own event to show off their wares. The Omagari firework festival started in 1910 and it was originally a firework attraction at the site of the Shrine of Suwa-jinja. This is just one of tens of thousands of Shine’s created to stop Christianity taking over completely so they welcomed visitors to reinforce the traditions of Shinto, which survives to this day and over 80% of the population follow the religion which some have combined with Buddhist teachings.

As the mid summer weekend arrives, as in the UK, families spend the evenings in parks and on the riverbanks with their picnic blankets watching the beautiful daytime and evening pyrotechnics. Each Summer across Japan, there are 14 full on festivals celebrating the art of ‘Hanabi’.

Although the blend of colours and sound effects will make some differences, there are really only 5 types of shell burst:

Warimono – This description indicates a ball-shaped shell burst with the stars being very precisely packed into the housing shell. On bursting, the more spherical the shell the more the crowds will appreciate it as it is a sign of excellence and indicates the love and care taken by the creator to ensure the break is as accurate as feasibly possible.

Pokamona – This one reaches the set altitude and then splits in two igniting the enclosed parts which break in irregular pattern and direction.

Han Warimono – This one is a super-shell packed with smaller ‘mini’ shells which are on a delayed burst, so it’s a little like having a huge balloon which pops releasing lots of smaller ones with all then go on to burst in a ball shape.

Katamono – Usually, the ‘novelty’ burst type of shell, the Katamono usually breaks into a drawing in the night skies overhead. They usually feature hearts, smiley faces, space ships, squid and footprints. This is a difficult one to achieve as any wind will blow the resulting burst out of shape to such a degree it would be difficult to identify what the intended arrangement was.

Of course, being shells they can only ever be fired by a trained professional firework technician in accordance with very strict regulations in regards to when and where they can be fired. A 10 inch firework shell when fired from a mortar tube is travelling 263 feet per second muzzle velocity (the speed it leaves the tube) but this of course will lower the further it travels. The shell will reach a height of 1000ft and have a 450 foot burst width – Astonishing.

I would add that the ones fired in Japan are generally in the early stages of the event are fired singly, giving the manufacturers the opportunity to tell the spectators via a PA system what they are about to see. At the ‘finale’ there will be a huge number of shells reaching the skies above to the delight of the crowds.

20 Inch Firework Shell

A photo posted by Epic Fireworks (@epicfireworks) on

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