Fireworks light up the sky over Japan
Night skies in the Land of the Rising Sun – from Hokkaido to Tokyo to Okinawa – blaze with the brilliance of “hanabi,” or fireworks, nearly every weekend in July and August. In fact, a cursory glance shows more than 80 fireworks festivals nationwide.
Fireworks in Japan are often the crescendo of a city or town’s summer festival, but they are also often the focus of the festival itself. They range from viewing displays along a river, aboard a “yakatabune” (houseboat) or against the backdrop of the 2,080-foot Skytree in Tokyo, to taking them in as a follow-up to an Okinawa sunset at Emerald Beach where light refracted off the aquamarine water and white sands enhance the pyrotechnics.
Don’t miss the show as Japanese fireworks are renowned worldwide for their artistic qualities – perfect shapes, exquisite colorings and enormous sizes, as well as the poetic sense of ephemerality they produce. In many cases, a single firework changes colors two to three times after it is launched.
Not only the fireworks itself, but the event sites often offer various funs. There are plenty of food and entertainment booths where you can find just about anything.
Wearing a “yukata”, a casual summer kimono, may add to your overall enjoyment. A yukata ensemble can usually be purchased for less than $80. It’s a great photo op.
When you’re enjoying a hanabi festival, feel free to join the locals in shouting “Tamaya!” or “Kagiya!” These are the names of popular rival pyrotechnists from the Edo era, and are still used instead of “Bravo.”
Events on Okinawa
SEAPORT CHATAN CARNIVAL: July 11-12, 8-8:15 p.m.; 1,300 fireworks will be displayed at Chatan Park Sunset Beach, along with live performances, raft-sailing by paddling and others with the theme of “Ocean” from noon to 9 p.m.; 20-minute ride from Okinawa Minami I.C. on Okinawa Express; 098-926-5678.
ORION BEER FEST 2014 IN ISHIGAKI (FIREWORKS): July 11, 8:45 p.m., fireworks display at Ishigaki City Shinei Koen as a finale; Orion Beer, Okinawa-originated brewery, will hold an annual beer festival from 3:30-8:50 p.m.; Factory-outlet beer, food booths, traditional Taiko (Japanese drum) performances, live music by Diamantes, Isamu Shimoji, Kaori Nakata and more; free; 098-877-5050.
OCEAN EXPO PARK OKINAWA SUMMER FESTIVAL 2015: July 18; 10,000 fireworks will be displayed from 8-9 p.m. at the Emerald Beach, also sunset concert scheduled at 6 p.m.; free entrance to the Ocean Expo Park; Motobu, Kunikami-gun (two-hour drive north of Naha); 0980-48-2741.
URASOE TEDAKO FESTIVAL: July 18-19, over 1,000 fireworks at 8:40-9 p.m. at Urasoe Athletic Park, along with Taiko drum, Eisa dance, hari dragon race and more; 098-876-1234.
NAGO FIREWORKS DISPLAY: July 25-26, 8-8:15 p.m.; about 1,000 fireworks will be displayed at Nago Port; five-minute walk from Nago City Hall-mae bus stop after taking 90-minute bus ride from Naha Airport; 0980-52-4243.
KUMEJIMA MATSURI (FIREWORKS) 2015: Aug. 1-2, 9:20-9:30 p.m., during the Kumejima Matsuri (festival), eisa dance and live concert at 6 p.m., followed by launching about 700 fireworks at Kumejima Fureai Park; 30-minute flight from Okinawa Naha Airport and another 10-minute ride from Kumejima Airport; 098-851-9162.
GINOWAN HAGOROMO FESTIVAL: Aug. 8-9, 9-9:20 p.m., a 5,000 fireworks display at Ginowan City Kaihin Koen Multi-purpose Square as a finale of the Ginowan Hagoromo Festival each day, featuring parade, children’s eisa dance, Taiko (Japanese drum) and live performance on Saturday, youth’s eisa dance and varieties of live performance on Sunday; 15-minute bus ride from Mashiki bus stop after taking a bus from Naha Bus Terminal; 098-897-2764.
YONABAMU FIREWORKS 2015: Aug. 16, 8:45-9 p.m., A fireworks display will light up the sky following the Yonabaru Giant Tug-Of-War that kicks of 5 p.m. at the Gotenyama Youth Square (Seishonen Hiroba); 20-minute ride from Naha Airport; 098-945-5323.
ZAMAMI MATSURI: Aug. 22, 9 p.m.; Fireworks will be the finale of the Zamami Matsuri at Zamami Port Terminal Hiroba, live performances, Ryukyu traditional dancers, hula dancers and more. Starts at 6 p.m.; 20-minute ride from Okinawa Minami I.C. on Okinawa Express; 098-987-2277.