Japanese Firework Festivals 2016 – Your Survival Guide to Hanabi

The firework festival is one of the biggest highlights of the summer in Japan. Tracing back it's history as far back as during the Edo Era, it has proven to be a widely popular annual event. Here is a guide on where to go, how to prepare for it and what to wear.

Along with the summer in Japan comes the season of firework festival or hanabi (花火). These festivities occur all over Japan and plays an integral part of Japanese culture. Similar to the sakura flower season, it reflects on the Japanese appreciation for fleeting beauty and you will witness the whole nation flocking to these events with bento boxes and picnic blankets in hand. It’s a festivity that should not be missed and can be the highlight of your summer in Japan. 

The history of hanabi
How to prepare
Hanabi fashion: the Yukata
10 most popular firework events in 2016

Japanese Firework Festivals: History

With the introduction of guns and gunpowder, fireworks were quickly developed around 1549. However, it remained as an entertainment for the elite and was coducted within the castle walls. However, following a great famine that swept through Japan, hike in rice prices and millions of lives lost, the country was bubbling with social tension and public unrest. The Sumidagawa River fire work festival was set up in 1733 as means to dispel evil spirits and to give the public some comfort. Now it has become an annual event and today, Japan has around 7,000 fireworks events, acting as a glorious summer night time entertainment. 


Japanese Firework Festivals: How to prepare

To enjoy your hanabi trip, preparation is the key! These events are extremely popular and depending on which firework festival you go to, your experiences will differ. So here are some tips.


Choose a festival event.

Also, choose it wisely. Although the big ones like the Sumidagawa fireworks festival is popular and extremely tempting to go to, bear in mind that there are lots of other smaller fireworks events that can be just as amazing but with a lot smaller crowd. Also, trains will be fairly packed and even getting into one will take a long time, so keep in mind the location of the festival. The other choice would be to book an accommodation close to your chosen festival. 


Dick Thomas Johnson

Photo Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr cc

Arrive early!

Trains will be busy, stations will be packed and finding a good spot to see the fireworks can be a challenge in itself. So arrive plenty in time (couple of hours) to find a place and allow yourself to relax with your friends or family before the fireworks show starts.

Guilhem Vellut

Photo Credit: Guilhem Vellut via Flickr cc

Bring food

Unless you don’t mind queueing up for a long time waiting to be served at the food stalls. It’s very common for people to bring their own bento boxes, snacks and picnic blankets. If you don’t want to pack your own picnic, there is a large selection of bento boxes at super markets and the food stalls provide a wide variety of hot food. Bringing your own alcohol is also acceptable. However, keep in mind that you don’t leave the place in a mess. Recycle and remove rubbish appropriately.


Dom Pates

Photo Credit: Dom Pates via Flickr cc


Photo Credit: Alpha via Flickr cc


Japanese Firework Festivals: Hanabi Fashion

A yukata is made using cotton and it’s the casual and cheaper version of a kimono. Although not compulsory, it is customary for a yukata to be worn during these festivities. Recently, the yukata has experienced a revival among the younger generation and has become a common sight during the firework festivals with both men and women. Whilst the girls sport bold and colorful flowers, the men’s yukata is a lot more subtle with darker colors. They are easy to wear and comfortable, providing a great fashion choice for your hanabi fun.




Photo Credit: RageZ via Flickr cc

1Japanese Firework Festivals: 10 Best for 2016

So which one should you go to? Here is the top ten firework events in Japan:


1) Sumidagawa River fireworks festival

Ilhami Mus

Photo Credit: Ilhami Mus via Flickr cc

Venue: Sumida River

Nearest train station: Asakusa Station

Date: July 30th 

Time: 18:00-20.30


2) Nagaoka fireworks festival

George Alexander Ishida

Photo Credit: George Alexander Ishida via Flickr cc

Venue: Shinano River near the Chousei Bridge. 

Nearest train station: Nagaoka Station

Date:  August 2nd

Time: 19:15 – 21:15


3) Omagari National Japan Fireworks competition  

Ryan Bailey

Photo Credit: Ryan Bailey via Flickr cc 

Venue: Omono Riverside

Nearest Station: Omagari Station

Date: August 26th

Starting time: 18:50-21:40


4) Osaka Tenpin fireworks festival

Miki Uchida

Photo Credit: Miki Uchida via Flickr cc

Venue: Around the Ogawa River 

Nearest stations: Osakajo Kitazume, Osaka Tenmangu, Tenmabashi and Sakuranomiya stations

Date: July 24th and 25th

Time:  3.30- 21.15


5) Miyajima fireworks festival

Daisuke K

Photo Credit: Daisuke K via Flickr cc

Location: O-torii Gate

Date: August 11, 

Time: 19:40 – 20:40


6) Futako Tamagawa River fireworks festival

Tokyo Times

Photo Credit: Tokyo Times via Flickr cc

Location: Futako Tamagawa River

Nearest Station: Futakotamagawa Station

Dates: August 26th

Time: 19:00 – 20:00


7)  Tsuchiura Japan fireworks competition

Daisuke K

Photo Credit: Daisuke K via Flickr cc

Location: Sakuragawa Riverside 

Nearest Station: Hamatsu-cyo Station 

Date: October 1st

Time: 18: 00- 20: 30


8) Edogawa fireworks festival 

Takayuki Suzuki

Photo Credit: Takayuki Suzuki via Flickr cc 

Location: Around the Edogawa river

Nearest Station: Kiowa station

Dates: August 26th

Time: 19:15 – 20:30


9) Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks Festival


Photo Credit: ZenGame via Flickr cc

Location: Rinko Park in front of the Pacifico Yokohama.

Nearest station: Minatomirai Station

Dates: Early August (to be confirmed)

Times: To be confirmed


10) Itabashi fireworks festival


Photo Credit: Nor NAKAYAMA via Flickr cc

Location: Arakawa River

Nearest Station: Nishidai Station

Dates: August 6th 

Time: 19:00 – 20:30

Khadiju Ali

Khadiju Ali

Avid traveller, lover of spicy food and anything related to David Tennant

Related travel categories

# Things to Do in Japan # Japan Travel Tips

Recommended articles

Related Posts