Fireworks explode in the sky and reflect off the night waters under the gaze of a packed crowd. Summer fireworks are a tradition in Japan.
This is a usual summertime evening in Japan. The curious gather along a river and leave behind the covered picnic tables to soak up the fine weather. And when night draws in, a choreography of shapes and colors explodes and crowd goes wild: fireworks, a sparkling show of pyrotechnic prowess makes the Japanese go crazy.
Hanabi and Hanami
It must be said that the fireworks in Japan are among some of the best in the world, combining power and miraculous heights, hanabi, fireworks in Japanese but literally translated as "fire flowers" can be shaped like peonys, willows, and chrysanthemums, the symbol of the imperial throne. The bright colors are reminiscent of the colorful makeup in Kabuki theater. Rhythmic explosions keep tens of thousands of spectators entertained for an hour... quite an achievement!
Attending a hanabi display in Japan is as inescapable experience, just like the spectacle of the cherry blossoms in spring, hanami. Both are attractive and friendly, and provide an opportunity for a communal feel with the Japanese. Summer festivals, or matsuri, are pure family fun. The beer flows freely, laughter breaks out, yatai (food trucks) serve local specialties, all while the water reflects the multicolored explosions.
When Kyoto is set ablaze
Japanese fireworks displays number in the hundreds during the summer, the most famous being held in Tokyo and Miyajima. But all cities in the country have competing technology and ingenuity to each prepare a hanabi show more lavish and impressive than the last year (see top 5 in Japan Guide).
Thus the case of Kyoto: the former imperial capital itself doesn't organize any hanabi to avoid the risk of fire... but the surrounding areas are full of fireworks: