In Australia we can only see fireworks on special occasions such as New Year’s or national holidays, concerts or entertainment events in Australia. However in Japan, hanabi (fireworks) are a common display not only in the big cities but also in local areas throughout Summer. They are even available for sale so many families and groups of friends can create their own fireworks shows.
Firework shows (Hanabi taikai) is a seasonal tradition and held mainly during summer in July, August and September. More than 5,000 fireworks evens are held throughout the country during that time every year. The display of fireworks in the night sky is one that highlights the Japanese summer.
The firework shows themselves typically start from after sunset and last for one to two hours. You can see many types often ending with a grand finale consisting of hundreds of shells launched simultaneously. The fleeting moments of beauty never fail to captivate the crowds.
Usually 5,000 -10,000 shells are lunched at each firework event. The biggest is in Nagano Suwa Lake that has been reported to launch 40,000 shells in the night.
Food stalls crammed side by side on the streets, people arrive dressed in yukata (cotton kimono) soaking up the relaxed and playful atmosphere of the traditional summer festivals.
The big fireworks at the events is called ‘Uchiage Hababi (fireworks display)’, on the other hand small stick fireworks are called ‘Temochi hanabi (hand-held firework, sparklers)’.
Unlike Australia, temochi hababi is legal in Japan and you can buy them everywhere, such as convenience stores, supermarket, even 100yen shops during the summer season. They cost around 1,000yen ($10).
Letting off the small fireworks with your family and friends is just as much a symbol of summer in Japan as the big displays. People enjoy the temochi hanabi in their backyards, on beaches and at camping sites, especially for kids, it is quite a high-light during summer.
Firework for Japanese people is probably the same feeling as ‘sakura (cherry blossoms)’ in spring, the sense of beauty of Japanese traditions.