Summer in Japan is the season of fireworks!

Highlights of the fireworks shows throughout Japan

Ten fireworks shows that have distinguishing features such as a long history, a high level of craftsmanship, or being highly entertaining have been selected from representative fireworks shows throughout Japan and are introduced here. The following information will be listed at the end of each show’s introduction. Please utilize it when planning your trip.

(1) Place (2) Times and dates for 2013 (3) Response to inclement weather (4) Number of fireworks launched

Lake Toya Long-Run Fireworks (Hokkaido)

Fireworks are set off every night in a hot springs resort

This fireworks show, in which fireworks are set off every night for as long as 6 months, has the longest running length in Japan. Since fireworks are set off from a boat moving across Lake Toya, the fireworks can be viewed from anywhere in the Lake Toya hot springs resort. How about enjoying the Japanese summer by viewing fireworks from an open-air bath or the window of a Japanese inn?

(1) Toyako-cho and Sobetsu-cho, Abuta-gun (Lake Toya hot springs resort)
(2) 4/28 – 10/31: 20:45 – 21:05
(3) Postponed
(4) 450 per day

National Fireworks Contest “Omagari Fireworks” (Akita Prefecture)

Selected pyrotechnicians compete against each other with their skills

Provided by Omagari Entrepreneurs Group

“Omagari Fireworks” is a fireworks competition in which pyrotechnicians selected from across Japan set off their fireworks by themselves, and it is positioned as a top-level fireworks competition in Japan. The overall champion will receive the Prime Minister Prize. It is spectacular to see the creations that the pyrotechnicians have made with all their might exploding in the sky one after another.

(1) Daisen City, Akita Prefecture (alongside the Omono River, downstream from Omagari-Bashi bridge)
(2) 8/24: 17:30 – (Daytime fireworks), 18:50 – (Nighttime fireworks)
(3) Postponed
(4) 15,000 – 20,000

Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition (Ibaraki Prefecture)

You can still catch a fireworks show even if summer has passed!

This is an open entry fireworks competition, counted among the three largest fireworks festivals in Japan. The competition consists of three departments: Starmine, 12 inch shells and Creative Fireworks, and the overall champion will receive the Prime Minister Prize. The competition is held on the first Saturday of October each year. It is one of the rare fireworks shows throughout Japan that are held in fall.

(1) Tsuchiura City, Ibaraki Prefecture (near Sakuragawa-Gakuen Ohashi bridge)
(2) 10/5: 18:00 – 20:30
(3) Postponed (6th, 12th, 13th, 14th)
(4) Approx. 20,000

Sumida River Fireworks Festival (Tokyo)

A signature summer event of Tokyo for 280 years

Provided by Sumida Ward

The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is a fireworks festival with a long history, being a successor to the “Ryogoku Kawabiraki Fireworks” festival that began in 1733, and it is loved by many people as a signature Tokyo summer event. Since the festival has an expected annual attendance of nearly a million people, fireworks are set off from two locations. There are sightseeing spots such as Sensoji temple and Tokyo Sky Tree near the festival site.

(1) Sumida Ward and Taito Ward (lower Sumida River)
(2) 7/27: 19:05 – 20:30
(3) Postponed to the following day, cancelled if the following day has inclement weather
(4) Approx. 22,500

Nagaoka Festival Fireworks (Niigata Prefecture)

Experience the spirit of mourning through the fireworks festival

The Nagaoka Festival Fireworks is one of the three largest fireworks festivals in Japan. The Nagaoka Festival began in 1946 as a war-damage reconstruction festival. It consists of events such as festival eve programs, daytime programs, the fireworks show and toro nagashi (paper lantern floating). Toro nagashi is a Japanese ceremony in which participants float paper lanterns down a river to mourn for the souls of the deceased. You can feel the spirit of Japan throughout the entire festival.

(1) Nagaoka City (along the Shinano riverbanks, downstream from Choseibashi bridge
(2) 8/2, 3: 19:25 – 21:10
(3) Held in the event of light rain, response to severe weather to be determined
(4) Approx. 20,000 for 2 days

Discover the Beauty of Japanese Fireworks

Japanese people have always loved fireworks as a summer tradition. Although there are fireworks displays throughout the world, Japanese fireworks displays strongly reflect traditional Japanese culture. In Japan, fireworks have evolved to become “flower arrangements” using fire. The creation of fireworks is to arrange flowers, so to speak. The timing in which they are launched displays the craftsmanship behind them, making the fire flowers bloom in perfect intervals. During fireworks festivals with a long history in particular, including the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, you can enjoy artistic fireworks displays that encapsulate traditional Japanese culture. Please read the following article written by Japanese culture researcher Au Yeung Yu Leung for details concerning the beauty of Japanese fireworks.

Toro Nagashi and Great Exhibition of Fireworks (Fukui Prefecture)

A unique fusion of tradition and entertainment

Toro nagashi and the Great Exhibition of Fireworks make up an event that began in 1945 to commemorate the war dead. It is the largest fireworks festival on the side of the country bordering the Sea of Japan, in which approximately 6,000 lanterns are set afloat on the sea while fireworks are set off in the sky, illuminating the water with reds, blues and yellows. Effects are added using laser lights and sound to form a comprehensive show, which attracts visitors.

(1) Tsuruga City (Kehi no Matsubara beach)
(2) 8/16: 19:30 – 20:15 (Toro nagashi begins at 18:30)
(3) Held in the event of light rain, canceled in the event of severe weather
(4) Approx. 10,000

Minato Kobe Fireworks Festival (Hyogo Prefecture)

Beautiful staging utilizing the night view of the Port of Kobe

With the famous night view of the Port of Kobe as its backdrop, approximately 10,000 fireworks are launched over the sea. The fireworks are beautifully produced utilizing the scenery of the sea and port, and the sight of fireworks illuminating the Port of Kobe as they are launched one after another is spectacular. You will be able to enjoy summer in Japan to the full if you view the fireworks while breathing in the salty sea air.

(1) Kobe City (Port of Kobe)
(2) 8/3: 19:30 – 20:30
(3) Held in the event of light rain, canceled in the event of severe weather
(4) Approx. 10,000

Tenjin Matsuri Festival Fireworks (Osaka)

Annual dedication of fireworks to the gods

Tenjin Matsuri is one of the three major festivals in Japan, held once a year at Osaka Tenmangu Shrine. Prior to the fireworks dedication to celebrate the appearance of the gods, some shrine rituals are held, including Rikutogyo (a land procession), in which about 3,000 people march beside a portable shrine containing the gods, and Funatogyo (a boat procession), in which boats with the same gods on board are set alight with fire and sailed down the river. Approximately 1,300,000 people come to the festival each year.

(1) Osaka City (Kawasaki Park, Sakuranomiya Park)
(2) 7/25: 19:00 – 20:50
(3) Held in the event of light rain, canceled in the event of severe weather
(4) Approx. 4,000

Miyajima Water Fireworks Display (Hiroshima Prefecture)

Illuminating O-Torii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Photo: Shintani Koichi

Water fireworks are fireworks that are designed to explode underwater. Fireworks that explode in shallow water open their semi-circular bouquet over the water. In Miyajima, a type of water firework that is thrown into the water from a boat after the shell is ignited is used. The fireworks open up off the coast of the torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine. The sight of O-torii, a world heritage site, illuminated from behind is fantastic, and is very popular among photography enthusiasts.

(1) Hatsukaichi (launched from a boat 400 m off the coast of the O-torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine)
(2) 8/11: 19:40 – 20:50
(3) Held in the event of light rain, postponed to 8/12 or 13 in the event of severe weather
(4) Approx. 5,000

Ocean Expo Park Summer Festival 2013 (Okinawa Prefecture)

Enjoy summer to the full on a beautiful Okinawa beach!

Last year’s festival

“Ocean Expo Park” is a popular national government park facing a beautiful sea, where visitors can enjoy the nature of Okinawa. During the Ocean Expo Park Summer Festival held every summer, you can enjoy one of the largest fireworks festivals in the prefecture, in which approximately 10,000 fireworks are launched, the Sunset Concert (16:00 – 20:00), and other attractions (12:00 – 18:00) that the whole family can enjoy together.

(1) Motobu-cho (Ocean Expo Park / Emerald Beach)
(2) 7/13: 20:00 – 21:00
(3) Held in the event of light rain, canceled in the event of severe weather
(4) Approx. 10,000

Tips for enjoying fireworks and “yatai” food stands

Large-scale and popular fireworks festivals attract many people and become crowded. To enjoy fireworks displays, it is important to leave home early to secure a viewing spot. Be sure to bring a folding fan or drinks to fight the heat! In addition, there are often yatai food stands near fireworks sites. If you stroll around the area before the start of the fireworks, you can eat “Kakigori”, finely shaved ice with syrup, or enjoy “kingyo sukui”, in which you scoop goldfish swimming in a water tank. Also, don’t forget to wear “yukata”, a casual traditional Japanese garment, to enhance your mood!