Japanese Fireworks Are Going Digital! How To Watch Hanabi in 2021 | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
Hanabi 2021

Japanese Fireworks Are Going Digital! How To Watch Hanabi in 2021

By Margherita Aug 12, 2021

Japanese love hanabi, summer fireworks: in a recent interview, 83% of the interviewed said they love hanabi, and just a significantly low 1% said they don`t like them.

Hanabi is, in fact, one of the summer events that are the most looked forward to by the majority of people in Japan.

Hanabi is not simply just fireworks; they are a whole experience that brings together the local community and attracts people from different parts of the country and cities. They are a spectacular event, where the firework show is carefully thought and designed months in advance: it can last from around 30 minutes to even a couple of hours.

For the occasion, Japanese dress in traditional yukata and food stalls are set up around the location.

How Covid-19 Affected Fireworks

During large-scale hanabi events, the number of fireworks launched in the sky can get up to 20,000 in just one hour, and a single hanabi taikai, a “firework event”, as they are called in Japanese, can attract dozens of thousands of people.

The concentration of such a high number of people in such small areas, especially when a festival is held in the city or the location is easily accessible with public transportation, creates congestion of public transportation and ultimately it becomes very hard to maintain social distance and the chance of spreading the virus increases dramatically.

Local municipalities and organizers had to face the gravity of the situation. They were forced to cancel most fireworks events in 2020, including big and year long-awaited events such as the Sumida Fireworks Festival and the Omagari Fireworks Festival in Akita prefecture. 

The development and the progression with the vaccination program, prolonged months of the state of emergency, and, finally, Tokyo 2020 Olympics actually happening, kept everyone`s hopes high for this years` hanabi: everyone is excited to get back to a normal – or at least apparently normal– summer in Japan, being able to participate and to go and watch our favorite hanami around the country.

 Unfortunately, despite the efforts, due to the ongoing State of Emergency that has hit not only the capital and the neighboring prefectures but also Hokkaido, Kansai and Okinawa, this year’s summer will not be lightened up by the usual summer festivals and hanabi.

Hanabi 2021

Is the Love for Hanabi Going Online?

Talking about this year`s hanami, 41% of the Japanese interviewed in a recent survey said they would like to go if the situation under covid-19 stabilizes. In comparison, 23% admitted that they don`t plan to go even if infections decrease.

Many festivals have been postponed to later this year. Still, local municipalities are starting to rethink hanabi in the light of current restrictions and within the larger frame of a future “new normal”. How can citizens enjoy hanabi avoiding clusters, transportation congestion and contact with other people? The answer to this demand has been “online hanabi”, which started last year with some YouTube live streaming or video recordings uploaded on dedicated websites.

Ibaraki Hitachinaka Online Fes 2021 will take place on Saturday, August 21st, with a 5 hour live streaming of the festival and fireworks starting at 4 pm.

Rinku Smile project will live stream the fireworks in Izumisano City, Osaka Prefecture, on their youtube channel on Saturday, August 28th, from 7 to 7.30 pm.

Hanabi 2021

Hanabi Happening in 2021

Many will argue that hanabi cannot be enjoyed to the fullest through a screen: many events have been postponed to this autumn with the hope that the situation will be under control and restrictions eased. If you`re looking for events to participate in around the Tokyo area, some smaller hanabi will still be held with measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Daimon yaki in Hakone will be scheduled on Monday, August 16th, from 7.30 pm to 8.10 pm. The peculiarity of Daimon Yaki is that large fires are started on the side of a mountain in Gora, Hakone, to represent the letter dai big, in Japanese.

Ebina Shinmin Matsuri in Kanagawa prefecture will take place on Sunday, November 14th, from 10 am to 6.30 pm. At the 50th anniversary of the festival, around 5000 fireworks will be popped into the sky.

The annual festival held in Mito at the end of May that combines traditional kabuki performances and fireworks has been postponed, and it is planned to be held at the end of October, on the 23rd from 6 pm. 

Tsuchiura All Japan Firework Competition is one of Japan’s top fireworks displays, usually held in summer. This year it was decided to be postponed, and it is currently planned to be held on the first Saturday of November from 6 pm to 8.30 pm.

Choose your favorite way to enjoy hanabi this year: from the comfort of your house or live from the fireworks location. If you do go out, follow government instructions, maintain social distance and be safe!

More about Japan in summer:

A Guide to Obon in Japan