You may think Japan is all about sushi, sumo, and anime, but you may be surprised to discover this little country is home to some of the world’s biggest fireworks displays!
When the Japanese throw a summer festival, it’s no holds barred in regards to the hanabi (fireworks) display. Nagoya and its outlying areas play host to a number of annual summer festivals, complete with yukata-wearing cuties, greasy food stall goodness, and, of course, truly epic and dazzling fireworks!
So, where did the Japanese lust for aerial pyrotechnics originate? While it is commonly known that fireworks originated in China, specifically during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 B.C.). , surprisingly that is not who introduced them to Japan.
Despite Japan’s close proximity to China, booming trade along the Silk Road brought this new brand of fiery entertainment to Europe first and it’s widely believed that fireworks were first brought to Japan by an emissary of the British Monarchy (and not the Chinese) in 1613.
Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa is reported to have been the first Japanese person to behold the impressive power of these early rockets. As is usually the case, the new technology remained a luxury of the privileged landholding military lords as well as Japan’s wealthy merchants. It wasn’t until over one hundred years later that Shogun Yoshimune organized Japan’s first public fireworks display over the Sumida River in 1733. That’s when the Japanese love of hanabi really caught fire.
History lessons aside, Japan really knows how to make a fireworks display go off with a bang. Here is a schedule of the biggest, brightest, and best fireworks displays going off around Nagoya this summer:
Tokai Festival Fireworks Display
(August 10th, 19:20 – 20:30)
Top notch fireworks at Oike Park in Tokai City. Last year saw some 4000 launches and a crowd of 95,000 spectators.
15-minute walk from Meitetsu Odagawa Station.
Nihon Rhine Summer Festival
(August 10th, 19:30 – 20:20)
This festival lights up the Kiso River with Japan’s national treasure, Inuyama Castle as a majestic backdrop. Last year featured 3000 fireworks and 230,000 visitors.
A short walk from Meitetsu Inuyama Yuen Station.
Nobi Grand Fireworks Festival
(August 14th, 19:30 – 20:45)
The grandest display in the Ichinomiya area. Last year saw 5000 fireworks launched for the delight of nearly 158,000 spectators.
Accessible by both JR and Meitetsu Lines to Ichinomiya. Buses available from the train station.
Yonezu River Festival
(August 15th, 19:30 – 20:30)
Initially begun for the sake of honoring both drowning victims and veterans, this impressive display will leave you enchanted. Last year, 70,000 spectators enjoyed some 3000 launches.
5-minute walk from Meitetsu Yonezu Station.
Kariya Wansaka Festival
(August 17th, 19:00 – 20:30)
Renown for an impressive finale, Kariya’s Wansaka Festival is a spectacle to behold. Last year saw some 7000 launches entertain 130,000 happy visitors.
From JR Kariya station a shuttle bus will drive you to the festival.
Utsumi Beach Grand Fireworks Display (August 17th, 19:00 – 20:30)
A favorite of ours here at NAGMAG, this stop is a must! Bring your beach chair and bikini. Last year’s modest display saw over 1000 fireworks paint the night sky.
15-minute walk from Meitetsu Utsumi Station.
Honou Flame Festival
(September 14th, 18:00 – 20:30)
Spark covered pyrotechnic experts launch an assortment of colorful fireworks. A truly unique display.
3-minute walk from Toyohashi Koen Mae Station.
(September 15th, 17:30 – 21:30)
This climactic affair bedazzles visitors annually. Last years festivities entertained 30,000 spectators with 4000 traditional launches, and an additional 300 shoulder rocket fireworks.
10-minute walk from Mikawa-Tahara Station on the Toyohashi Line.