A Brilliant Midsummer’s Night in Adachi

Summers in Tokyo are notoriously hot and humid with heat waves lasting weeks at a time. While all you want to do during the day is stay inside to escape the heat, the nights, on the other hand, entice us out with promises of some of the year’s most exciting events. Continue reading “A Brilliant Midsummer’s Night in Adachi”

Summer Festivals: Adachi Fireworks

It’s that time of the year again: FESTIVAL SEASON! Nothing says summer in Japan more than fireworks displays, colourful yukata, beer gardens, awa dances, Obon and Tanabata!! It’s the party season, i.e. the best time to get out with your friends and enjoy life!

Kicking off my new “summer festivals” series is a fireworks festival by the name of Adachi no Hanabi.

The Adachi Fireworks is Tokyo’s first major summer fireworks festival of the year. It takes place on the Arakawa River for an audience of roughly 610,000. This year, it was on Saturday July 19.

I got together with two friends, all of us excited to be wearing our yukata (summer kimono), and headed out to Kitasenju in northern Tokyo. Just as our train pulled up at the station, the worst possible thing happened: it started to rain. I was afraid it would be a repeat of the Sumidagawa Fireworks last year, which got cancelled because of a storm. With our fingers crossed, we decided to brave the wind and rain and make a dash for the riverbank. However, Mother Nature had other plans, and the rain got stronger and stronger. We got about half way and were forced to take refuge in a bicycle parking lot. There was still 20 minutes left until the fireworks were to start, and we were just praying the rain would stop. It eventually died down enough for us to keep going. No matter what, we were going to get to that river!

By the time we got to the site, the rain was pouring again and we were drenched. It was almost funny. We had been so excited for this night, and just like that, it looked like it would be all over before it even started. The view of the riverbank was a pretty sad sight! The rain had sent everyone running for cover under a big bridge, and left the area almost deserted.

7:30pm came, and astonishingly, the first fireworks was shot up in the air. Forgetting about the cold rain, people excitedly rushed out from under the bridge. I almost wanted to cheer out loud! And what was even more awesome, about 15 minutes in, the rain stopped completely and it turned out to be a great fireworks display! What a tease, Mother Nature!

Up next: Shinjuku Eisa Festival

Colouring the Night Sky: Hanabi Season

Feelin’ HOT HOT HOT! Summer has descended in all of its sunny, warm and humid glory. The temperature went above and beyond the forecast today, reaching 36°C ! And summer in Japan means one thing… the beginning of Hanabi season!!

Like many countries, Japan takes pyrotechnics very seriously, and you can be sure whether it’s at Disneyland or a national fireworks competition, you will see a well-synchronised, spectacular, colourful show. I did a bit of research so I could share with you the top fireworks festivals, as well as to make sure I don’t miss out on any! There are loads of smaller fireworks festivals especially around Shinjuku, but the top summer festivals are found in Tokyo’s outer suburbs of Itabashi, Adachi, Katsushika and Edogawa, as well as the inner suburbs of Sumida and Chuo.

Tokyo Wards - fireworks locations
Tokyo wards –  top fireworks festivals locations

Here are the top festivals, ordered by date…

第35回足立の花火

The first fireworks festival to get the party started is the Adachi Fireworks Festival. It’s also currently ranked the most popular fireworks show in Japan!
When >> July 20th 2013, 7:30pm-8:30pm
Where >> Ara River in Adachi ward
Visitors >> About 590,000 people
Size >> 12,000 fireworks, 4 shows:
1) fireworks representing the 4 seasons
2) fireworks in all sorts of shapes and famous characters
3) fireworks synchronised with a music soundtrack, including the “Niagara Falls” fireworks
4) fireworks synchronised with music. The climax of the show this year will be fireworks in the form of a “full-bloom cherry blossom tree”!

*****

第47回葛飾納涼花火大会

Next is the Katsushika Cool Summer Evening Fireworks Festival.
When >> July 23rd 2013, 7:20pm-8:20pm
Where >> Edo River, Katsushika ward
Visitors >> About 580,000 people
Size >> 12,000 fireworks

Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival. Image by calvinmyjourney.
Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival. Image by calvinmyjourney.

*****

第36回 隅田川花火大会

One of the oldest and most famous fireworks shows in Tokyo is the Sumida River Fireworks Festival.
When >> July 27th 2013, 7:05pm-8:30pm
Where >> Sumida River, Sumida ward (near Asakusa)
Visitors >> About 950,000 people
Size >> First site = 10,716 fireworks; Second site = 12,050 fireworks

Image by てんどん (http://photozou.jp/photo/show/141110/145311514) [CC-BY-2.1-jp (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.1/jp/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sumida River Fireworks and Tokyo SkyTree. Image by てんどん.

*****

第54回いたばし花火大会

Kicking off the August festivals is the Itabashi Fireworks Festival.
When >> August 3rd 2013, 7:00pm-8:45pm
Where > Ara River, Itabashi ward
Visitors >> About 520,000 people
Size >> 11,000 fireworks

*****

第38回江戸川区花火大会

On the same day as the Itabashi Festival, is the massive Edogawa Fireworks Festival.
When >> August 3rd 2013, 7:15pm-8:30pm
Where >> Edo River, Edogawa ward
Visitors >> About 900,000 people
Size >> 14,000 fireworks

*****

第25回東京湾大華火祭

Another hugely popular August festival is the Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival.
When >> August 10th 2013, 6:50pm-8:10pm
Where >> Tokyo Bay, Chuo ward
Visitors >> About 650,000 people
Size >> 12,000 fireworks

Tokyo Bay Fireworks 2012. Image by Norio Nakayama [http://www.flickr.com/photos/norio-nakayama/7766652600/]
Tokyo Bay Fireworks 2012. Image by Norio Nakayama.
For more information on fireworks in Tokyo and around Japan, visit Hanabi Walkerplus.