NB: This was originally on the main site but for some reason now no longer displays so it’s been imported to our blog.
The Okazaki Fireworks Festival (Hanabi Taikai) is celebrated every year. It is held on the first Saturday of August along the banks on Sugou River. It is rumoured that originally this festival was held by worshippers of the Sugou Shrine.
On the day of the fireworks we were told that during the day, 9:00am, 12:00pm and 3:00pm at the location of the fireworks, there’d be testing of the fireworks. At 9:00am there was the loudest almighty bang I’ve ever heard, I thought it was a bomb explosion, but no, it was the testing of the fireworks, the fireworks shook the house!
“So?” you think. Well these fireworks were about 2km away! In my past experience the fireworks I have heard before (that I’ve been right next to) weren’t as loud as the ones I heard at 9:00am.
The firework testing was repeated again at 12:00pm and 3:00pm, both times I jumped out of my skin in shock. They were very loud and still shook the house.
At about 4:30pm, we travelled to the Sukou River where the firework display was being held. (The start time was at about 7:30pm (finish was about 9:20pm). During travelling I noticed that some Japanese were wearing traditional festival clothes (Yukatas (like Kimonos) and Jinbee, for women and men respectively). I noticed that more women then men wore traditional festival clothes. (And the women who wore Yukatas looked quite nice in them).
When we got down to the river the fireworks display had just started, bloody loud they were when I was right up close. But, being that this is Japan, and Japan being a small country with about 125 million people, the place was packed. Moving around was next to impossible (there were riverside seats, but at a cost of 40,000yen (A$570, at the time of writing) you can stick them), so it was a case of fighting through the crowd, and stopping every time the firework display started up, we watched over the tops of the trees.
During these “rest breaks” in the crowd, since we were so close to the fireworks, I was able to get a good whiff of them, and they stank. The smell was like, well like burning sewage. Really strong stuff, the people who were sitting along the pathway, I honestly don’t know how they could prolong this nasal assault, maybe after a while you didn’t notice it? But I wasn’t going to hang around to find out. After the fireworks paused (to no doubt be restocked or rearmed) we were able to move forward again with crowd.
After what seemed like an hour of fighting through the sea of humanity along the river pathway we decided to give up and move back from the river, we found a fairly good spot to sit and view the fireworks a few streets back, we sat up high along the train bank and then watched the display (in relative comfort) over the tops of the houses.
At about 9:10pm we decided that it was time to “pull up stumps” (finish), so we walked back home, whenever we heard a loud bang behind us (along with the ground shaking) we stopped and watched the final display(s) (and took photographs).
My final thoughts on this festival are, I enjoyed it from an observers point of view, I feel I’ll be able to enjoy this festival more in the future. But for now, I am able to look back at it (2 weeks ago at the time of writing, 2000) and feel that, for me, it was an enjoyable event.