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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fireworks festivals in Japan

Tokyo Bay Fireworks

Japan does great fireworks in summer. They usually last an hour and are spectacular. To the Japanese people, fireworks festival is an event to enjoy with family and friends and therefore it is common to camp for a nice space to view the fireworks in leisure. Unlike western culture, where we party and countdown and be loud and rowdy. And our fireworks usually last a maximum of 20 mins?

In this post I will write about some tips when going for these wonderful fireworks events in Japan :) (Please read until the end because I will highlight something important for fireworks countdown in Japan...)

Fireworks Festivals Information
The information below was taken from the link but I replicated here for fear that the information on the website might change and I want a record of it for blogging purposes. Please refer to link above for updated fireworks information.

This is a list of the fireworks festivals that I have attended, and I have also included links/will be including for the blog entries.

1) Sumidagawa River Fireworks Festival in Asakusa #38 (MY BLOG ENTRY HERE)

my first Yukata :)

One of the major fireworks displays of Tokyo. The evening sky of Edo-town Asakusa is brightly colored with several tens of thousands of fireworks. It is the night sky masterpiece with old Japanese house silhouette. 2015's view from Asakusa Taito-ku is available here. Sumida side (across the Sumida River to the other side from Asakusa) is less crowded. This year 2015 also sells the special event collaboration with Tokyo Skytree. On the fireworks festival day, all has to be out from the tower by 14:00 (2pm), special entrance tickets is required for watching the event both from TEMBO DECK (350m) and TEMBO GALLERIA (450m). On-line reservation (lottery) is finger-crossing and touch-woody.

Date : July 25th, Saturday, 2015
Time : 19:05 - 20:30
Number of Fireworks : 20,000
Nearby Station : Asakusa Station on Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line, Tobu Skytree Line and Tsukuba Express Line

2) Edogawa Fireworks Festival (#40)

Fuji-san fireworks at Edogawa Fireworks Festival

Date August 1st, Saturday, 2015
Time 19:15 - 20:30
Number of Fireworks 14,000 (1,000 shots in first 5 seconds!)
Nearby Station Koiwa Station on JR Line
Keisei-Edogawa Station on Keisei Line
Shinozaki Station on Toei Shinjuku Line

3) Tokyo-Wan Dai-Hanabi-Sai (Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival #27(MY BLOG ENTRY HERE)

Date August 8th, Saturday, 2015
Time 18:50 - 20:10
Number of Fireworks 12,000
Nearby Station JR Hamamatsucho Station on JR Line
Toyosu Station on Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line
Kachidoki Station on Toei Oedo Line

4) Chofu Fireworks Festival

Date August 22nd, Saturday, 2015
Time 18:50 - 19:50
Number of Fireworks 8,000
Nearby Station Chofu Station on Keio Line (KO18)
A few tips about fireworks festivals in Japan:

1) Go early to secure your places with plastic picnic sheets. Always go early. For the Sumida fireworks we went really late and it was a torture!! You can just leave the sheets there with stones to prevent it from flying. Japanese people will not touch those spaces that have been taken already. They even have those camp chairs ready, to sit down and enjoy the hour-long fireworks. So you can actually go at noon and mark your places, then go and shop and eat lunch etc. We were there late too for the Tokyo Bay one and it took us very long to find a decent spot to watch from. Almost every inch of the grass and grounds were covered with sheets by the time we went there!

2) Bring all the food and drinks you need. Queuing at the convenience stores is troublesome - they do crowd control sometimes whereby you will have to wait for the people inside to come out before you can go in, and the walking direction in the store is controlled, you can only walk one way. Not a bad thing, but I just wanted one popsicle..... One trick I found out when I went for the Chofu Fireworks - Google map コンビニ and find out the locations of the convenience stores along the way to the viewing grounds. I didn't know that there were stores nearer to the grounds and I carried litres of water for half an hour, walking :( You don't choose the nearest for fear of crowd, but at least one that is nearer.

Also the queue for the food stalls are quite bad, especially cooked food like yakisoba. If you want it, buy early! For the Tokyo Bay one, we had trouble getting out from the crowd to our viewing spot and watched the fireworks opening while walking to our spot.

3) Take note of the fireworks time and be at your reserved space at least 15 mins before. Don't try to linger around or prepare to suffer the crowd craze!

4) Try not to get home immediately after the fireworks because the train stations are jam-packed. The bay is good for chatting with friends and taking some pictures, and Edogawa festival grounds have some space to take a stroll too.

A warning about fireworks countdown in Japan
By the way, just for information, Japanese people do not countdown with fireworks. When one of my friends was in Tokyo on New Year's Eve 2015, she was misled by this website seemingly set up by agoda. To the Japanese people, New Year is a rather solemn event where they go to the shrine to pray for good luck and fortune for the New Year, or they spend it with their families. I know it's strange that even Tokyo, a metropolitan city with so many foreigners has no countdown fireworks, but this is how traditional is. Hey, they make it up for the dozens of fireworks festivals in the summer! That's enough ;)

I do not wish to link to this website because I don't want to give it traffic, but it's the top few search results when you google 'tokyo fireworks countdown'. In my picture it's the first link:

The link refers you to an agoda hotel booking link by suggesting that they have hotels that have excellent views of fireworks. It's really mean because it even states like fireworks at Tokyo Tower which is totally untrue. Always double check with the official sources! What if my friend went there in anticipation of beautiful fireworks? It would have been a sucky new year's eve. Of course, I found out for my friend there were no such events and she went to Yokohama for the countdown instead. Even then, the fireworks was pathetic so I would say don't bother if you are going there just to watch the fireworks. A different thing if there is an after-party with your friends :)


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