Famous breath-taking fireworks festivals around Japan

Photo courtesy of Daisen City

Numerous fireworks festivals are held all over Japan. In this article, you can learn about Japanese fireworks and some famous fireworks festivals in Japan.

Why are Japanese fireworks round-shaped? The secret of the 'firework balls'

Firework is called “Hanabi” in Japanese, meaning flower (hana) and fire (-bi). To corroborate its meaning, Japanese fireworks are characterised by their round shape, like a flower in full bloom, and the “firework balls” are the key factors that make things possible. Unlike most countries that use cylinders to pack the gunpowder, Japanese fireworks are made from spheric balls with the gunpowder laid inside (see photo).

Fireworks size depends on the size of the firework ball. A small 8.5cm firework ball will rise 120m in height and open to a diameter of 60m, while a large 88.5cm firework ball will rise 600m in height and open to a diameter of 550m.

Most Japanese pyrotechnicians go through 10 years of training

Photo courtesy of Toyako Onsen Tourist Association

Photo courtesy of Toyako Onsen Tourist Association

The fact that a firework ball small enough to be held in both hands produces a firework with a diameter as big as 60m, implies that making fireworks is far more dangerous that one could expect. Firework balls can explode with the slightest shock, meaning that working with fireworks needs skilled techniques. To guarantee such skills, there are professionals in Japan called “Hanabi-shi” (fireworks pyrotechnicians), who manufacture and launch firework balls.

Special qualifications are required for the production and launching of fireworks. What’s more, it generally takes more than 10 years of training to become a professional pyrotechnician. The large fireworks that bloom in the night sky are filled with the efforts and skills of pyrotechnicians.

Famous fireworks festivals in Japan

Photo courtesy of Daisen City

The National Fireworks Competition “Omagari Hanabi” in Akita Prefecture since 1910, is one of the three largest fireworks festivals in Japan. It is also a prestigious competition in which pyrotechnicians from all over the country compete to become the best in Japan. The special feature of the competition is the large number of fireworks shooting off continuously in a short period of time. The culmination of a year's work is simply spectacular!

The Nagaoka Festival Grand Fireworks Show in Niigata Prefecture is another of Japan's top three largest fireworks festivals, attracting more than one million visitors over two days every year. The festival features extravagant fireworks such as the Shosanshakudama, which blooms to a width of 650m, as well as a series of fireworks blooming to a width of approximately 2km.

CC BY 2.1 JP(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.1/jp/)

When it comes to Tokyo's most famous fireworks festivals, it has to be the Sumida River Fireworks Festival. Held every year on the last Saturday of July, a total of 20,000 fireworks are shot off at two venues. The fireworks appear between buildings and in alleyways, creating an extraordinary atmosphere unique to the metropolis.

Photo courtesy of Moerenuma Artistic Fireworks Festival Committee

Fireworks festivals are also held in Hokkaido, a popular destination for foreign tourists. The Moerenuma Artistic Fireworks, one of Hokkaido's largest fireworks festivals, well utilises the vast park grounds. The scene of fireworks which shoots off in sync with the music’s rhythm and tune is a moving spectacle!

Photo courtesy of Toyako Onsen Tourist Association

Photo courtesy of Daisen City

If you’re looking for fireworks festivals in Hokkaido, don't miss the Lake Toya Long Run Fireworks Festival, which is held on the lake for 20 minutes every night between the end of April and the end of October. The large fireworks fill the night sky and the surface of Lake Toya with beautiful dazzling lights. A lake cruise is also recommended to enjoy the fireworks up close.

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This information is sourced by Fun Japan Communications Co., Ltd.
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