top of page
  • Writer's pictureAkiko Murakami

Summer Fire works season has started!

Now the rainy season has finally over and season of summer festivals with beautiful big fireworks has started all across Japan.

Japan produces beautiful multi-colored big fireworks with many kinds and exports to 80 countries in the world. Some new unique ones change their colors and shapes a few times after they spark in the air.

Just like the Cherry blossoms in the spring season, fireworks also leave us visual, vivid memories in our mind. Also, they have the similar feature of "impermanence". No one can stop the moment, and that makes each sparks so special.

Well, summer in Japan is notorious for its heat, humidity, and mosquitos, but fireworks, if you choose a good location to enjoy, it is such a joy to embrace the moment in many settings with different people; couple, friends, family, co-workers, etc.

There are different reasons and origins of holding fireworks in Japan.

It is not just simply amusement for summer night events (like every night at Disney land), or competitions by craftsmen.

Looking at relatively traditional fireworks displays in various places, it seems many are for the prayers and dedications, such as ; “war memorial service”

“consolation for victims of water disasters”

or “contribution for victims of major natural disasters”. The rest is for good harvest prayers and gratitude for the local kami (diety) and some other local celebration events.

If you look at the dates of the fireworks festival nationwide, the number of events are held during the "Obon" holidays. Obon is a traditional Japanese event to welcome the spirits of ancestors. People usually get a few days of vacation during the Obon period (August 13-16) from work, and many go back to their hometowns and visit their family graves.

As a matter of fact, if you are a little bit familiar with Japanese history, summer season remind older generations of the War times since Hiroshima Day is August 6th, Nagasaki Day is August 9th, and August 15th is the day of the end of the World War II.

I am not so sure about the younger generations, but at least until my generation. I grew up watching many TV programs in summer nights about the War histories and related news, dramas, movies, special documentaries. But I am not so sure of the younger generations...

I strongly remember an interview of an old lady who was afraid of fireworks. She was saying "Their sounds of going up into the air and explode strongly flashbacks the wartime memory of nightmares of repeated air raids by US B29." Her view of fireworks left me a strong impact and mixed feelings. Different images of the fireworks for different people.

Fireworks are reminiscent of "flower arrangement". In Kanji, or in adapted Chinese characters, fire works "HANABI" consists of 2 characters.

花 = flower 火 = fire

Big fireworks in the sky may represent the warm feelings of individual families to their ancestors.

Here is one example of a huge scale fireworks festival in Kuwana on Youtube. Amazingly beautiful!! Believe me, this is not the most famous one.. there are so many, and some of them launch as many as 20,000 fireworks in one night. My local festivals in Nara, the number drops to 3,000 or so, but still quite nice!


Not just big ones for the summer festivals, we can buy many toy fireworks for family and children, even at the convenience stores. It is said in the middle of 17th century, a craftsman from Yamato, or Nara prefecture made his business of producing basic small-scale toy fireworks successful in Edo (Tokyo) and became the first generation of Kagiya family tradition.

It has always been the case in Japan, I was super shocked to find that selling and buying of toy fireworks were banned in some states in the U.S. Oh well, the sounds of sparks can easily be mistaken as gun I understand it is tricky.

Again, different images of the fireworks for different people...

ーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーーー The following is the national hit song (2017) by a young charismatic singer-song-writer, Kenshi Yonezu.

English translation

"Fireworks" (Uchiage Hanabi)

The shore we looked out over that day, I still remember it now

Words engraved on the sand, your silhouette

The waves, coming and going against my feet, washing everything away

In the evening's calmness, only the twilight passes through

Shining with a bang, we watched the blooming fireworks

Surely summer wasn't over yet

Unraveling and connecting our uncertain hearts

I wanted that night to last forever

Every time after, I wondered if I could see the same fireworks as you

If I could do something for the sake of your smile

Pain and happiness, emotions looping like ebbing waves

And with impatience, comes the sound of the last train

I'll put it into words again and again, calling to you

I'll choose the waves, once again

So that I won't ever make you sad again

Fading with a gasp, the light that seemed to disappear

Surely lived on in our hearts

The warm future that we grazed with outstretched hands

Had secretly been watching us

With a bang the fireworks (With a bang the fireworks)

Bloomed in the night (Bloomed in the night)

Blooming in the night (Blooming in the night)

They quietly faded (They quietly faded)

Don't let go yet (Don't leave)

Just a little longer (Just a little longer)

Just a little longer, just like this

The shore we looked out over that day, I still remember it now

Words engraved on the sand, your silhouette

Shining with a bang, we watched the blooming fireworks

Surely summer wasn't over yet

Passing through and connecting our uncertain hearts

I wanted that night to last forever

La, la, la...



Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page