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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Venue: Sumida River
Nearest train station: Asakusa Station
Date: July 30th
2) Nagaoka fireworks festival
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
Venue: Omono Riverside
Nearest Station: Omagari Station
Date: August 26th
Starting time: 18:50-21:40
4) Osaka Tenpin fireworks festival
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
Location: O-torii Gate
Date: August 11,
Time: 19:40 – 20:40
6) Futako Tamagawa River fireworks festival
Location: Futako Tamagawa River
Nearest Station: Futakotamagawa Station
Dates: August 26th
Time: 19:00 – 20:00
7) Tsuchiura Japan fireworks competition
Location: Sakuragawa Riverside
Nearest Station: Hamatsu-cyo Station
Date: October 1st
Time: 18: 00- 20: 30
8) Edogawa fireworks festival
Location: Around the Edogawa river
Nearest Station: Kiowa station
Dates: August 26th
Time: 19:15 – 20:30
9) Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks Festival
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
Location: Arakawa River
Nearest Station: Nishidai Station
Dates: August 6th
Time: 19:00 – 20:30