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The five firework shows of Kanto and Kansai you need to see when you come to Japan

Nothing says summer quite like the spectacle of fireworks, those explosions of color dancing across the night sky. Looking up, all you can think to yourself is, “Ah, Summer’s here at last.” From Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south, as soon as Summer comes around, regions all across Japan come to life with brilliant fireworks displays. Today we’ll take a look at the 5 different displays you’ll find in Kanto and Kansai.

1) Tenjin Matsuri Hono Hanabi Fireworks Display

With a fireworks show boasting 4,000 mortars, the Tenjin Matsuri festival is one of Japan’s three great festivals, attracting 1.4 million people a year and host to a legacy that spans over 1,000 years. The Tenjin Matsuri Hono Hanabi fireworks display signals the festival’s finale as 4,000 fireworks burst into life in the night sky and a fleet of 100 bonfire-equipped ships dazzle the water to make for a truly unforgettable experience. We recommend checking out the various stalls before the fireworks begin. You’ll also find Osaka Castle nearby, so you may enjoy planning a visit to the castle during the day and heading to the festival during the evening.

2) The Minato Kobe Fireworks Festival

Held at Kobe Port in Kobe, Hyogo prefecture, this festival features a show of 10,000 fireworks and attracts an audience of 270,000 people. The fireworks lighting up both the sky and the waterfront coupled with the beautiful city skyline combine to form a romantic sight. Kobe is a city popular for its attractions, so start your day by touring around Ijinkan and Kobe’s Chinatown, then end things off by heading to the port once the sun starts going down to catch the show!

3) Sumida River Firework Festival

This fireworks festival held in the Sumida ward of Tokyo boasts the most formal and traditional show of any in the Kanto region. 20,000 fireworks are blasted into the sky, attracting a whopping 950,000 people every year! This particular fireworks festival continues a tradition which began with the Ryougoku Kawabiraki in 1733, the height of the Edo period. On this day, all of the Sumida ward participates in the merrymaking; however, you’ll find crowds of people crowding not only the river shoreline but the station itself once the show ends, so come prepared with plenty of extra time to weave your way through the throngs. For people who don’t do well in crowds, we recommend enjoying the view from a houseboat instead; you can enjoy a meal and alcoholic beverages while watching the fireworks.

4) Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival

Held in the Yodogawa ward of Osaka, this fireworks festival sees 410,000 visitors a year. Founded in 1989 by local volunteers, it has since become a familiar and welcome event to the denizens of Osaka. Nowadays, it’s considered one of the festivals that represent Osaka as a prefecture. The show itself is only a quick trip away from the Osaka terminal as well as the Umeda station, so often women will arrive decked out in yukatas, and men will come in their best summer casual wear; truly a welcome sight of summer. The way back after the festival doesn’t tend to be as pleasent. It’s not uncommon to find yourself jammed shoulder-to-shoulder with people at station waiting on the next train. And then, once you think you’ve finally reached sweet freedom at the train doors, the train ends up being full and you can’t get on! Some people come prepared to make a day trip of the festival only to have to hunt down a hotel room after missing the last train due to the crowds. If you’re coming from a distance, you may want to make a hotel reservation near the station just to be on the safe side.

5) The Lake Biwa Fireworks

Held in Ootsu, Shiga prefecture, this summer fixture of Lake Biwa features a fireworks display of 10,000 mortars and attracts an audience of 350,000 people. The shores of Lake Biwa are flooded with people to this extent only on this day, once a year. The lake and the natural scenery itself are gorgeous. Many hotels and hot springs ryokan in the area offer special plans for guests to view the show from their own rooms, which would make for a wonderful experience, to be sure. Unfortunately, these plans are also ridiculously popular, so reservations tend to be filled up a year in advance, which might put a kink in that plan for some people. The real highlight of this particular show is that they offer tickets in advance guaranteeing you a seat for the show. The ticket prices vary based on seating location, but if you like to sit while watching the show, if you have children, or if you’re traveling with people with disabilities, it’s a choice we highly recommend.

Top image:JAPAN BOOK

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