For many Japanese, summer means fireworks. During the summer, almost every weekend throughout Tokyo and Japan there are large fireworks displays. It’s customary for people to wear yukata (light cotton kimono) on the muggy summer nights to see the “hanabi” 花火 (literally “flower fire”).
The largest fireworks display in Tokyo is the Sumida River Fireworks Display, this year on Saturday, 28 July from 7:05pm until 8:30pm. Unlike fireworks displays in most other parts of the world, this and many others in Japan are a competition held between rival pyrotechnic groups. Each group tries to out-do the last, and the result is an incredible variety of fireworks, not just in different colours and patterns, but forming shapes as complicated as characters from Japanese animation or kanji .This year will mark the festival’s 35th anniversary and will be commemorated by an additional 2,000 fireworks, meaning this year 22,000 fireworks will make up the display.
On the night of the Sumida River Fireworks, tens of thousands of people, many dressed in yukata, stroll the streets of Asakusa, especially around Sensoji temple. The streets are lined with with food vendors and stalls and lots of restaurants around this old entertainment district provide outdoor seating where you can enjoy some good food and drink while catching what you can see of the fireworks.
There are also many festivals outside Tokyo that have fantastic fireworks displays including, the Okayama Momotaro Festival (4 August 2012, 19:30-20:30), Osaka’s Tenjin Festival (25 July 2012, 19:00-21:00 ) and the Miyajima Water Fireworks (11 August 2012, 19:50 – 20:50) in Hiroshima.