Sumida River with Tokyo Skytree in the background

Japan: Summer Fireworks Displays

Now that the biggest summer fireworks show in Japan has come and gone, I thought it would be a good time to itemize the other major fireworks festivals that are about to take place. There are several scheduled in and around Tokyo, as a matter of fact, with events ranging in scale from less than 2,000 shells all the way up to over 10,000 shells being utilized! The Japanese fireworks (hanabi) are highly regarded as the most beautiful in the world with colorful vibrant colors, a wide variety of shapes and techniques accented by a dynamic but delicate sense of art.

As I mentioned, the Sumida River Fireworks Festival took place this past Saturday, July 26th at 7:00 PM over the Sumida River near Asakusa. Typically this festival is held on the last Saturday in July and is a revival of celebrations held during the Edo period. This is not a mere fireworks display but a fierce competition between rival pyrotechnics groups which produces some of the most amazing displays that can be seen over the skies of Tokyo. This year, it was said that 20,000 shells were used during the event. The event is so popular, it draws close to a million people annually. (Information: http://gotokyo.org/en/kanko/taito/event/sumidahanabi.html)

Sumida River fireworks

Sumida River fireworks

Sumida River with Tokyo Skytree in the background

Sumida River with Tokyo Skytree in the background

Spectators gathering to watch the fireworks show along Sumida River

Spectators gathering to watch the fireworks show along Sumida River

If you missed the Sumida River show, you can still catch another nice fireworks display on August 2nd. Edogawa Fireworks Festival is the oldest fireworks festival in Tokyo, marking its 39th year this year! Taking place on the banks of the Edo River, the event utilizes some 14,000 shells during a show which is divided into eight sections, each section based on a different theme. The venue is just a 25 minute walk from the JR Koiwa Station and a 15 minute walk from Shinozaki Station on the Toei Shinjuku Line. (Information: (Japanese only)http://www.city.edogawa.tokyo.jp/hanabi/index.html)

Edogawa Fireworks Festival

Edogawa Fireworks Festival

Edo river

Edogawa

Also on August 2nd, you can watch 11,000 fireworks launched from the banks of the Arakawa River in the Itabashi ward, one of 23 special wards in Tokyo. The Arakawa River forms part of the boundary with Saitama Prefecture. The Itabashi Fireworks Festival lasts and hour and 40 minutes and reserved seating is available, if you so choose. You can reach the venue via the Toei Mita Line, just exit at the Nishidai station. (Information: (Japanese only) http://itabashihanabi.jp/)

Itabashi Fireworks Festival

Itabashi Fireworks Festival

If you happen to be in Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa, on August 5th, make sure not to miss the Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks Festival. Here 15,000 fireworks will be launched from boats in front of Rinko Park. Sponsored by the Kanagawa newspaper (Kangawa Shimbun) this is Yokohama’s signature summer event! This year will be the 29th year for this event which will be highlighted by fireworks synchronized with music and laser beams. (Information: http://www.yokohamajapan.com/things-to-do/events/29th-kanagawa-shimbun-fireworks-festival-2014/)

Kanagawa Fireworks Festival

Kanagawa Fireworks Festival

Kanagawa

Festival vendor

Festival vendor

Last but not least on August 10th, the Tokyo Bay Grand Fireworks Competition will take place. This event will be utilizing 12,000 shells which will light up the sky of Tokyo Bay including the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower. Two leading pyrotechnics companies, Marutamaya and Hosoya, compete to show off the most spectacular display of fireworks. The Tokyo Bay Grand Fireworks Festival has become one of the biggest and well known fireworks festivals in Tokyo along with Sumida River Fireworks Festival, drawing over 650,000 visitors each year. The main viewing area is the Harumi wharf, but it is limited to only those who have tickets. Visitors to Odaiba’s Decks Tokyo Beach can also view the fireworks display. The hanabi show is scheduled to start at 6:50 PM, concluding at 8:10 PM. (Information: http://www.gotokyo.org/en/tourists/attractions/fourseasons/hanabitaikai.html)

Tokyo Bay Fireworks Competition with the Rainbow Bridge in the background

Tokyo Bay Fireworks Competition with the Rainbow Bridge in the background

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Of course, this is not a complete list but it will give you an idea of what is available during the month of August. Summer in Japan is not complete until you have had an opportunity to view the fireworks, so plan on it!

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