If you are visiting Tokyo from July to October, there will be millions of fireworks waiting for you! In this article, we are going to introduce several selected fireworks events in Tokyo. Enjoy a summer in Japan like a local does!
When speaking of summer in Japan… Fireworks!
Fireworks are an essential element of summer in Japan. Every year in summer, there are dozens of fireworks events being held one after another from July to October. Enjoying fireworks is fun, right? But do you know the story of fireworks in Japan and how it is related to summer? Fireworks and summer are in fact related to Japanese traditional custom.
In Japan, in the old days, there were events in around mid August to entertain the deceased – by welcoming their souls to your place and serving them your cooking. When the souls return to the world of the deceased, there was a custom to make a fire to end the event. While time passes, nowadays the fire has been replaced by fireworks. So this is how fireworks are related to summer.
In large-scale fireworks events, there are usually lots of stalls open temporarily near the venue. Wandering around such lively streets, you can enjoy the time-honoured Japanese customs: ordinary local cuisines and traditional games. Don’t you feel fresh to enjoy the genuine culture of Japan? Many Japanese dress in a traditional costume called “yukata” (which is actually a type of “kimono”) to enjoy in fireworks events. Since “yukata” is not hard to dress, do enjoy with “yukata” as well!
Highlight of the fireworks events in Japan
The highlight of fireworks events is of course fireworks. Shoot balls filled with gunpowder high in the sky, and big fireworks open in the sky! Since there are various kinds of fireworks in Japan, let us talk a little about different fireworks in Japan before going into the fireworks events.
The size of fireworks on the sky basically depends on the size of the ball filled with gunpowder. “Shaku (尺)” is the unit used here. This is an old unit of length used in Japan, and one “shaku” is roughly 30 cm. When a fireworks ball with one “shaku” are launched to 330 metres high (the same height as the Tokyo Tower!), the fireworks will open to the diameter of 320 metres.
The world’s largest fireworks registered in Guinness World Records as of 2017 is a 4-shaku-diameter fireworks ball. Remember how big the fireworks will be even when it is just a ball with one shaku? Fireworks of larger scale than that are rarely seen. In Japan, when fireworks events are introduced, the unit shaku is often used, so check it out if you see an unit called “shaku”.
Another word that might be useful to you is “star mine (スターマイン)”. In Japan, several fireworks being continuously launched in a short time are called a star mine. In large-scale fireworks display, several dozens to hundreds of fireworks can be launched in a short time. Such an overwhelming number of fireworks is launched one after another and you do not even have time to count the number! And if more than one star mine is launched together next to each other in the sky, it is called “wide star mine (ワイドスターマイン)”.
Fireworks events in or near Tokyo
Now, let us introduce the recommended fireworks events being held in Tokyo, and the neighboring areas including Kanagawa, Chiba and Ibaraki prefecture.
Sumida River Fireworks Festival – Tokyo
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival (隅田川花火大会) is a fireworks event where more than 20,000 fireworks will be lit up along Sumidagawa River near Tokyo Sky Tree. This event has a history of over 300 years, so you can imagine how popular it is. There are two venues: the first venue offers artistic fireworks in different colours and shapes, while the second venue offers star mines! If you want to enjoy fireworks in Japan for once only, then this is definitely a must-go one!
The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival in 2017 is scheduled to be on 29 July from 19:05 to 20:30. To the first venue, it takes about 30 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station. To the second venue, it takes about 25 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station. Since it is always jam-packed every year, it is better to spare more time and get to the venue earlier.
Fireworks in Adachi – Tokyo
Fireworks in Adachi (足立の花火) is a fireworks event held along Arakawa River, a wide and long river situated in the eastern region of Tokyo. It is the first fireworks event in Tokyo to be held every year. This event features an extremely large number of fireworks. Since there are 12,000 fireworks launched in one hour, you will get thrilled throughout the entire hour. There you can enjoy not only star mines, but also other unique fireworks at once.
Fireworks in Adachi in 2017 will be held on 22 July from 19:30 to 20:30. It is approximately 40 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station to the venue.
Koto Fireworks Festival – Tokyo
Koto Fireworks Festival (江東花火大会) is an event where fireworks will be launched above the sea side of Arakawa River. It may seem that the number of fireworks to be launched is relatively small – 4,000 shots. But the thing is, the venue, Arakawa Sunamachi Mizube Park, is only 150 metres away from the fireworks launching site. Isn’t it impressive to appreciate fireworks up-close? Star mines will be shot too! Other than the official venue, there are quite a few secret spots for fireworks viewing, such as under the elevated highway and the riverbed of Arakawa River. In those hidden spots, you can enjoy fireworks viewing without getting jammed in the crowd.
Koto Fireworks Festival in 2017 is scheduled on 1 August from 19:40 to 20:30. It is approximately 35 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station to the venue.
Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival – Tokyo
Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival (葛飾納涼花火大会) will be held along Edogawa River, a river which lies between Tokyo and Chiba. This year will be the 51st anniversary of the event. There will be a special kind of fireworks, “Niagara fireworks (ナイアガラ)”, which falls like a waterfall in the sky, to start the celebration. Moreover, the masterpieces in Hanabi World Cup in HUIS TEN BOSCH (世界花火師競技会) will also be showcased! It is undoubtedly the most attractive fireworks display in 2017!
Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival in 2017 is scheduled on 25 July from 19:20 to 20:20. It is approximately 35 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station to the venue.
Kawasaki Shisei-kinen Tamagawa Fireworks Event – Kanagawa prefecture
Kawasaki Shisei-kinen Tamagawa Fireworks Event (川崎市制記念多摩川花火大会) is a fireworks event to be held along Tamagawa River in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, and is considered the most representative one among all the fireworks display events around Tamagawa River. On the opposite side of Tamagawa River, Setageya Tamagawa Fireworks Event (たまがわ花火大会) is held at the same time and you can enjoy the fireworks launching from both places at once.
Kawasaki Shisei-kinen Tamagawa Fireworks Event in 2017 is to be held on 19 August from 19:00 to 20:00. It is approximately 65 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station to the venue. The venue is always packed with people every year, so it is highly recommended to arrive there earlier before the event starts.
Fujisawa Enoshima Fireworks Festival – Kanagawa prefecture
Fujisawa Enoshima Fireworks Festival (ふじさわ江の島花火大会) is to be held in Enoshima, Kamakura, which is a very popular sightseeing destination by the sea. This fireworks display features star mines launched above the sea. The unique scent of the tide and the fireworks reflected on the surface of the sea together make up a nice atmosphere. It is just so different from the ones in Tokyo! Since there is not any high buildings around the venue, you can enjoy a totally unobstructed wide view of fireworks larger than usual – in the diameter of 2 shakus!
Fujisawa Enoshima Fireworks Festival in 2017 is scheduled on 21 October from 19:00 to 20:00. It is approximately 65 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station to the venue. Be reminded that the venue is always crowded every year!
Yugawara Onsen Kaijo Fireworks Festival – Kanagawa prefecture
Yugawara Kaijo Fireworks Festival (湯河原温泉海上花火大会) will be held at Yugawara Onsen, which is located in Hakone, the very famous hot spring resort. Same as Fujisawa Enoshima Fireworks Festival we just introduced above, the star mines which is to be launched in the sky above the sea is the most eye-catching charm of the event. This fireworks display event will be held on three separated days. In August, there is another festival called “Yugawara Yassa Festival” held at Yugawara Onsen, so why not have fun at the same time?
Yugawara Onsen Kaijo Fireworks Festival in 2017 is scheduled on 17 July, 3 August and 29 October, from 20:00 to 20:30. From Tokyo station to the venue, it is about 80 minutes by Shinkansen (bullet train) and train. It is recommended to stay a night at Yugawara Onsen to relax after the fireworks display.
NARITA HANABI in Inbanuma – Chiba prefecture
Does your flight land at Narita airport? NARITA HANABI in Inbanuma (NARITA花火大会in印旛沼) is held near Narita airport. The fireworks display was awarded the Good Design Award (グッドデザイン賞) for its excellent design, and it was the first time that a fireworks event could be awarded. The fantastic artistic fireworks display has drawn a lot of attention from the public!
NARITA HANABI in Inbanuma in 2017 is to be held on 14 October from 19:00. It is approximately 120 minutes by train, bus and on foot from Tokyo station to the venue.
Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition – Ibaraki prefecture
For people who want to see more sophisticated fireworks, Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition (土浦全国花火競技大会) is the best recommendation for you, which is held near Lake Kasumigaura (霞ヶ浦), a large lake in Ibaraki. In this event, fireworks craftsmen from all over the world make all use of their skills to compete for victory. The competition is divided into three groups: group of star mine, group of one-shaku fireworks, and group of original fireworks. It is one of the three biggest fireworks events in Japan, and you will have the chance to see a variety of sophisticated fireworks, ranging from traditional fireworks to modern fireworks incorporated with advanced technology.
Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition in 2017 is to be held on 7 October from 18:00 to 20:30. It is approximately 100 minutes by train and on foot from Tokyo station to the venue. As the venue is always crowded every year, try to arrive there earlier!
Enjoy a summer of fireworks in Tokyo!
There are a handful of fireworks events in summer in Japan. Those held in and near Tokyo are especially magnificent and spectacular. Since the atmosphere is completely different if you watch the fireworks near the sea or near a river, do visit more than one! But be kindly reminded that, it is possible that the fireworks events may be cancelled due to weather condition. Do pay attention to the official announcement before you go! Have fun in summertime!