How to experience your first Hanabi Festival
Who doesn’t love fireworks? I guess everybody does. There is something about fireworks that gives indescribable feeling to everyone. We typically witness fireworks on special occasions such as weddings, extravagant birthdays, and New Year countdowns. In Japan, during the summer holidays, Japanese are celebrating fireworks festival, which is one of the biggest and brightest festivals all over the country. It’s held from the last weekend of July until the end of August.
Originally, it was called Ryōgoku Kawabiraki. It was a tradition for competing pyrotechnician rivals. These groups battle on who can produce the most exquisite and enchanting fireworks display. Even until today, different groups join in the competition every year to bring about the wondrous art of fireworks display in Japan.
The festival is called Hanabi or Hanabi Matsuri – hana means flower and bi means fire. It is a festive tradition of the Japanese people that started way back in 1732, when the country was still suffering from economic collapse, diseases and famine. They used the fireworks display as an instrument to distract or revert the mindset of the people. So as to give them hope and happiness during the trying times. This activity or festival gave the japanese people so much encouragement to celebrate life. Thus it continued so forth and was done annually to commemorate festivities. It can be likened to Thanksgiving Day celebrated by the Western people.
The Wearing of Yukata
The festivity won’t be complete without wearing the ‘yukata’, a traditional summer dress worn both by men and women during the festival. It is also one of the highlights that showcases the Japanese culture. Because of the hot weather during summer, most people prefer to wear light yukatas made of cotton and/or silk. You can read more about how and when to wear yukata in this article.
Spending time with families and loved ones
The event is also more memorable, especially among young couples with their flourishing romance, because it’s the time when many are confessing their love to their partners. Furthermore, it is also an opportunity among families that are getting together, having a good time, witnessing the wonderful colors of the night sky and savoring exquisite food. These fireworks are done usually at big venues like parks, big stadiums, bridges and also riversides all over big cities like Tokyo. The most popular venue for Hanabi is in Sumida River in Asakusa area.
Must-try festival foods
Food stalls or yatai that offer heavenly goodies are available in the festival area. You can enjoy good food with your friends and loved ones while waiting for the fireworks to sum up your best hanabi experience. Popular food that you must try are takoyaki, karaage, yakitori, yakisoba and the famous dessert, kakigori, a shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and condensed milk available with different flavors. There are so many ways to enjoy this summer festival. Many stalls and kiosk are gathered around selling goodies and other kawaii stuffs that will make your experience memorable.
There are hundreds of Hanabi events everywhere in Japan but one of the best is the Sumidagawa Hanabi, located in the heart of Tokyo. It is remarkably the biggest and most awaited event in Tokyo, so you need to plan ahead of time and choose the best viewing spot to witness the spectacular colors that fill the night sky along with its roaring sound that will surely cap the amazing experience.
Every festival experience has its own story, so you can make one, too. Who knows, you might hear a confession, as well. Just make sure to create unforgettable memories that you will cherish in this lifetime.
Refinyaj | Philippines