Japanese summers are synonymous with loud and colorful fireworks, with hundreds of Hanabi festivals held across the country over the holiday months, when the weather is more humid.
Hanabi is the Japanese word for fireworks, made up from the combination of the words ‘hana’ which means ‘flower’ and ‘bi’ which means fire.
In Tokyo alone, nearly every weekend over the summer you’ll find Hanabi lighting up the sky with booming sounds from the tens of thousands of fireworks launched from riversides, bridges, parks and stadiums.
Beginning in the 1940’s to commemorate those who died in the war, Japanese firework shows display the refined designs of the makers who use this expressive form of art to symbolize a wide range of scenes and emotions.
Resembling streamers of color, flowers, animated characters and other incredible shapes, the balls of fireworks are shot into the night air – creating unforgettable memories for all who take part in the festivities.
Local men and women that attend Hanabi Taikai often wear a yukata, which is a casual summer kimono made from bright and bold lightweight fabrics. Translating to ‘bathing clothes’ yukata are a common sight during Japan’s hot summer months.
Attracting tens of thousands of people, Japan’s fireworks festivals strongly reflect traditional Japanese culture and have become equally as popular for their street-lined food stalls and outdoor restaurant seating, which spills onto the streets, so that diners can catch a glimpse of the show. The popular street food menu includes Takoyaki, Yakisoba, Ikayaki, Yakitori, Okonomiyaki and Chicken Karaage.
Atisuto’s Chef Aijiro has fond memories of enjoying the fireworks as a child – watching the show with his family, before returning home to continue the festivities with sparklers that the family would light to provide moments for greater reflection.
“Hanabi Taikai reminds me of many joyous celebrations I was fortunate to experience at different stages of my life. When I was a child, it was exciting for me to see fireworks with my parents and family. And as I got older, I enjoyed the time I would spend hanging out with friends. Now, I am looking forward to bringing my little granddaughter to the next Hanabi Taikai when I return to Japan.”
If you’re heading to Japan, take part in the magic of Hanabi Taikai. Not only do the fireworks festivals offer great insight into Japanese culture, but they are an experience that you’ll never forget.