These sometimes fizzle out slowly and droop to give the appearance of a wilting flower.”, Warimono showcase Japanese firework-manufacturing techniques, The second type of fireworks are katamono. And when they do, they explode in a profusion of countless tiny bursts, like flowers.
“This kind shoots up and explodes like the other types, however, there is a delay before they burst.
One of the later summer festivals is the Fukagawa matsuri in Tomioka Hachimangu shrine taking place in the middle of August. The variety of fireworks and the sense of drama and tension that builds towards the finale keep spectators entertained. The matsuri is a fun and enjoyable celebration centered around the carrying of portable shrines, or mikoshi, which is a Shinto religious practice. “You need a strontium compound to make red, for example, but strontium by itself won’t burn continuously, so you’ve got to mix in a variety of other substances, such as aluminum alloy to make it brighter. Japanese artisans master these techniques, leveraging their precision and skill to create dramatic effects. The Sumidagawa River runs through Tokyo and is where Japan’s first fireworks festival continues to take place.
Although it is celebrated every year, every third year the celebrations are more spectacular than usual. It is a marvelous display of fireworks sharing the sky with the Tokyo Skytree while the visitors lay down mats on the streets and have nighttime picnics. This type of firework has been around for centuries, since the country's earliest displays, but the bursts keep getting bigger and better as existing techniques are refined and new methods are introduced. “These fireworks explode in simple spheres, commonly designed to look like a chrysanthemum or peony flower. It is one of Tokyo's largest and most urban fireworks displays and the view of the colorful lights surrounding Tokyo Skytree is particularly stunning. “When it explodes, it doesn't matter how big it is, it’s got to form a perfect sphere. They’re incredibly entertaining, and sometimes resemble Christmas lights.”, “Fireworks in America and European countries tend to be cylindrical, but Japanese fireworks are spherical. The next step is to make the bursting charges, which are what make the stars burst open. The first half of July is the time for two summer festivals ending with ‘ichi’ which comes from the Japanese word “ichiba” and means bazaar. It takes five to nine different substances to make a single color,” Komatsu explains. Thus, the rituals and celebrations in which the fireworks took part played multiple roles. “Light is created when they burst, so they are sometimes called stars,” explains Komatsu. The Nagaoka Fireworks Festival in Niigata Prefecture is one of Japan’s largest. The stars and the blasting charges are packed in a round shell called a tamagawa. Copyright © Japan National Tourism Organization. The last such festivity was in 2017 and the next one will be in 2020! Read more about matsuri at In Harmony with the Seasons: Festivals and learn more about how to dress for a summer festival at The Matsuri Manual: Festival Style Guide. They are also the most fun, perhaps because summer has always been a time of good weather and plenty of food. tall broadcasting and observation tower. The tamagawa is then wrapped in several layers of heavy paste-soaked paper and set out to air-dry and harden. Cholera had swept through the city of Edo (modern-day Tokyo) in 1732, claiming some 900,000 lives. The one thing in common of all these festivities is enjoying summer and engaging with your local community. The open fireworks category is a test of innovation. They explode in contrasting colors and variations on the traditional spherical shape.”, Happo-zaki fireworks create colorful contrasts in the night sky, Jikansa-hakko (staged-blast) fireworks change color in stages before disappearing. It is believed that the God blesses the streets while also being amused by the ride in the mikoshi. Major events draw huge crowds and include fireworks set to music, urban displays, and pyrotechnic competitions. It is different from other festivals in that the display is set to music. Packing the stars and the bursting charges into the shell (tamagawa), “How you pack the shell determines the effect of the firework—the pattern of the burst, the way the colors change, and so on.
Happo-zaki (eighty-thousand blooms) and jikansa-hakko (staged-blast) fireworks build on traditional warimono fireworks. The event began in 1910 and continues to be an industry-defining event. The history of the Sumidagawa River Fireworks Festival dates back to 1733. The festival takes place on the last Saturday of July and draws around 900,000 spectators. Ideally, you should find a spot about 200 meters (656 feet) from the launch site.”. The Omagari Fireworks Festival in Daisen, Akita Prefecture, doubles as the National Fireworks Competition. The types of fireworks you see in overhead displays can be roughly grouped into three categories. Kowarimono are sometimes also called senringiku (thousand-chrysanthemum) fireworks.”, Kowarimono fireworks explode into multiple bursts that look like small flowers, “More recently,” explains Komatsu, “there’s been a trend towards more elaborate fireworks. The tradition of the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival can be traced back to Kyōhō famine in 1732, when fireworks were launched as part of festivals for the dead. To make a spherical firework, there are four main steps, and each takes at least three weeks to complete.”. And, in the final category, participants must set of a specified number of fireworks to a designated soundtrack, within a given time limit. The popularity of the displays has turned firework making into an art, so much so that firework makers are often referred to as "artisans." Note: The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After Tokugawa Yoshimune launched the first fireworks, shrines across the country began using fireworks as offerings to the gods. “They explode in multiple colors,” explains Komatsu, “before fading out from bottom to top. Annual displays, often held in summer, are a focal point of the cultural calendar and attract spectators in huge numbers. Komatsu says, “These days, a typical display lasts about ninety minutes. The intense competition pits Japan’s elite fireworks artisans against one another, and this fierce battle of skill and artistry has driven innovation within Japan’s fireworks industry. Most artisans can vary the way they pack a firework with precision, to create an exact intended result. You can peek in the world of Sanja festival in our reportage Backstage at Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa. Kanda festival, Sanja festival, Fukagawa festival and Sanno Festival are the biggest and most popular summer festivals in Tokyo since the Edo period. For the most current information, please check the homepage of the facility, product or campaign. Today, it is one of the largest and most famous fireworks festivals in Tokyo. It’s a lot like the way chefs refine recipes. Komatsu works as a pyrotechnician at more than 130 displays across the Tohoku and Kanto regions each year. Share your travel photos with us by hashtagging your images with #visitjapanjp. They are among the kigo or seasonal keywords in haiku with the task to immediately paint an image of summer in the reader’s mind. passes by. Omagari also hosts themed fireworks festivals in spring, fall, and winter. yûdachi ni tsugi no matsuri no tôri keri, in a cloudburst Through the years, the religious element of matsuri became less pronounced and today there are even secular summer festivals that retain the same atmosphere, just without the mikoshi.
The first fireworks were launched in Japan in 1733. Although they are not physically close to Mount Fuji, Edo people have always admired the sacred mountain from afar and built shrines to pray to its spirit. If you know Japan, you know it breathes with the rhythm of the seasons. It has been held every year since it began. They are both dedicated to flowers; hozuki is translated sometimes as “ground cherry” or “Chinese lantern” and asagao is morning glory. What's more, with layering techniques, it is possible to produce a firework that changes color up to ten times when it explodes. The event is held on the last Saturday in August each year.
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