Posts Tagged ‘fireworks’

Shibamata summer fireworks in Tokyo

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

On Tuesday 26th July 2011 I went to see the summer fireworks display at Shibamata, north east of central Tokyo. From the station I had to walk through a traditional street before getting to the park where the fireworks were to take place.

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I made it to the park by the river just before the fireworks started. The fireworks were very impressive – they went on for about 40 minutes, and the promotional material said that they were going to us 7000 fireworks. That works out at nearly three fireworks per second! This display was even more impressive than the Yokosuka New Year’s Eve fireworks display that I saw at the start of the year.

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Here are some of my photos from the event. I took about 200 photos using my cheap handheld camera. Many of the photos were blurry, but when you take that many, you are bound to get some good ones.

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The above firework explosion reminds me of those images that they get from particle accelerators when two atoms smash into each other.

The below sparks looks like stars in the night sky, but it is the final parts of a firework fading away.

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They had some very intensely coloured fireworks. Here are blues and reds.

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And a load of multi-coloured fireworks all exploding at the same time.

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A lot of people try to frame their fireworks photos so that they don’t get the spectators in the shot – but I like the look of the sillouettes they make against the bright lights. On the bottom right someone is taking a photo using their mobile phone.

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These fireworks left bright streaks across the sky.

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In these final two you can see someone speaking on the phone whilst the display takes place. Though with the noise of the music and the explosions I don’t know how any audible exchange could take place!

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The display was completely free (if you didn’t want a designated seating position) and professionally organised so if you didn’t get to see it this year, I can recommend it for 2012.

Tokyo New Year’s Eve fireworks in Yokosuka

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

On New Year’s Eve most of the major cities around the work have large free organised fireworks displays in the city centre. Unfortunately Tokyo doesn’t – at least not in the main city. There are several paid displays if you are prepared to travel a bit outside the centre, but if you made the journey to Yokosuka (横須賀市) in Kanagawa prefecture on 31st December 2010 you could see the fireworks for free.

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From Tokyo JR station it took over an hour to get to Yokosukachou station (needing two trains), from where it was just a five minute walk to the fireworks area. As we were there early we went for a walk around the park where there were many stalls serving hot food and drinks.

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There were lots of Japanese food stalls, and even a stall claiming to serve ‘American Food’.

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The fireworks were being launched from the Tokyo Bay near to some navy ships that had been decorated with lights.

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There were three submarines in the water. One had ‘2010’ written on it in lights, and as soon as it became 2011 the lights changed to ‘2011’.

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The fireworks display then started. Despite using an old, cheap digital camera that I was holding in my hand I still managed to get some good shots of the fireworks reflected off the water.

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The display lasted a bit over five minutes and the mostly Japanese crowd watched very politely. Unlike in many other countries where people drink to excess on New Year’s Eve, in Japan people either don’t drink, or they just have a very small amount. There was no sign of any rowdy behaviour during the whole evening.

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After the display finished there was time to get the second to last train back to Tokyo. If you hang around too long after the fireworks you’ll miss the last train, so make sure you know where you are going after the fireworks finish.

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Nagasaki Spirit Boat procession

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

On the 15th August 2010 I watched the Nagasaki Spirit Boat procession (精霊流し). This event takes place every August, for people to mourn family members who have died in the past year. Despite sounding a bit gloomy it is actually a very lively event with colourful floats, firecrackers, clamouring gongs and shouting!

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We weren’t sure exactly where to find it so we asked at the tourist office and they helpfully marked the main locations on a map, and told us it would start at about 6pm, with the floats slowly making their way to the harbour. The below map shows roughly where it is. The red lines are the main routes, and the floats converge in the centre.


View Nagasaki Spirit Boat Procession 精霊流し in a larger map

We made our way to the area, and walked towards Shianbashi station. While walking we started hearing firecrackers. The decided to follow the explosions! Along the road were hundreds of exploded firecracker boxes.

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By following the explosions we found our first float, being carried by a group of macho looking men. On the front of most of the floats were photographs of the loved ones whose lives were being remembered. The participants believe that the spirits of the deceased will be sent to Sukhavati (Land of Bliss).

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The firecracker explosions were very, very loud. The different floats seemed to be competing with each other to see who could make the most noise.

Some of the floats were very heavy looking so needed a lot of people to carry them. In between carrying the floats and setting of firecrackers the participants took time to rest.

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The people setting off the firecrackers were mostly well behaved, but some of them set them off closer to the spectators than they should have. The marshals sometimes gave the participants a telling off.

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Some people seemed to take pride in keeping hold of the firecracker while it exploded. Probably not the safest thing to do! Others enjoyed throwing the exploding firecrackers at their fellow participants feet to make them jump up and down.

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As we got nearer the harbour more and more floats appeared until there was a massive queue of floats leading to the water front.

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In the past people used to be able to release the floats into the water. These days what happens is the people leave their float in what looks like a ‘float car park’. A demolition crusher then picks the float off the ground, crushes it, and dumps it into a skip. A sad end for these floats – they look like they took a long time to build.

This is a fun festival to come and watch. Beware though – it is extremely loud, and the firecrackers and the small aerial fireworks that people were setting off (especially when it gets dark) could be dangerous, so stay on your guard.

Spirit Boat Video

Above is a 6 minute video of the event, you can watch it in up to 480p.

Hanabi World Cup 2010 – fireworks competition

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

On the 14th August 2010 I was visiting Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki prefecture. As luck would have it this was the day that Japan’s entry into the Hanabi World Cup 2010 fireworks competition was being performed. It cost ¥500 for the ticket. Here are my photos and a five minute video of the event.

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After the warm up fireworks display Japan’s entry into the competition began. The backdrop was a Kanko Maru Edo-Era sailing ship lit up with red lights.

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The fireworks were choreographed with the Eastern sounding music as well as a bit of rock. Watch the video at the end of this post to hear the music.

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The beginning of the display was more subtle than a ‘fire everything into the sky at once’ display that you might get on bonfire night.

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The title of this display is Hanabi ぜよ.

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Also in the competition are China, Portugal, the U.S.A. and France.

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Hanabi is the Japanese word for fireworks. It translates as ‘flower fire’. This is the kanji for Hanabi: 花火. The first one ‘hana’ means flower 花, and the second one ‘bi’ means fire 火. If you look at the flower one you could imagine that it is a picture of some hanging flowers. And the second one looks a bit like a man flapping his arms around because he is on fire. Thinking of what the kanji look like makes them easier to remember.

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Being a fireworks display in Japan everyone was very polite, and sat on the floor in rows. The spectators clapped and gasped at regular intervals, and there was lots of photo and video taking as well.

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The finale was a massive ‘shoot as many fireworks into the sky at once’ ending. Always guaranteed to please the crowd.

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Hanabi World Cup 2010 video

You can watch this in up to 480p if you change the settings on the embedded video.