Fireworks festivals are BIG in Japan, both in scale and in popularity. They are held all over the country, particularly during the summer, with a visit to a fireworks festival being a quintessential Japanese summer activity.
See the list below for some of the most popular fireworks festivals around, throw on your yukata, grab some snacks (and beers, if you wish), and enjoy!
Caution! Please note the following important points:
- Fireworks festivals are crowded. Seating may be difficult or impossible to get on the day-of (many locals reserve spots ahead of time).
- Public transit in the area will be very congested (and even sidewalks to and from the venue).
- The official venues for some fireworks festivals require buying tickets. Please confirm whether tickets are required or not ahead of time.
- Japanese summers are hot and muggy! Wear appropriate clothing and stay hydrated.
Despite its rather somber beginnings in the Edo period as a memorial for the victims of a famine and cholera epidemic, the Sumida River display is considered one of Japan's three top fireworks festivals. This year is the first since the completion of Tokyo's newest landmark, the nearby Skytree.
Main Venue: Sumida River Banks, Asakusa
Number of Fireworks: 20,000 (approx.)
Expected Attendance: 942,000
Access: Brief walking distance from Asakusa Station (Tokyo Metro and Toei subways, Tobu Line).
Organized by Japan's premier sports newspaper, Nikkan Sports, this downtown fireworks festival is spread across four venues, all featuring live music. Tickets are required to enter the venues. They are likely to sell out before the day of the event, so buying in advance is recommended.
Main Venue: Tokyo National Stadium, Jingu Baseball Stadium, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium, Meiji Jingu Gaien Softball Field
Number of Fireworks: 10,000 (approx.)
Expected Attendance: 100,000
Access: Shinanomachi or Sendagaya Stations, JR Chuo-Sobu Line. Gaienmae or Aoyama 1-chome Stations, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
As if Tokyo Bay was not picturesque enough as it is -- with Rainbow Bridge, the glowing Tokyo skyline, and its shimmering reflection on the water itself -- this ocean-top display really shows the bay in a new light.
Main Venue: Tokyo Bay Area, Harumi Pier Park
Number of Fireworks: 12,000
Expected Attendance: 700,000
Access: Kachidoki Station, Oedo Line. Toyosu and Tsukishima Stations, Yurakucho Line.
Held on the historic Edo River that forms the border between Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture, this massively popular festival draws the most spectators of any in the Tokyo area with crowds on both sides of the river.
Main Venue: Edo River Banks (Tokyo and Chiba sides)
Number of Blasts: 14,000
Expected Attendance: 1,000,000
Access: Walking distance from JR Sobu Line Koiwa Station and Toei Shinjuku Line Shinozaki Station on the Tokyo side, JR Sobu Line Ichikawa Station on the Chiba side.
This popular display is held at Yokohama Port, drawing quite the crowd to the harbor-side park in Yokohama's Minato Mirai for evening picnics to take in the show. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the festival organizer, Kanagawa Shimbun.
Main Venue: Rinko Park (Minato Mirai, Yokohama)
Number of Fireworks: 10,000 (approx.)
Expected Attendance: 310,000
Access: Brief walking distance from Shin-Takashima and Minato Mirai Stations, Minato Mirai Line.
Founded in celebration of recovery from a tsunami and great fire, Atami's fireworks are now fired above the bay multiple times throughout the year. Admission is charged for entry to the official viewing areas which offer some of the best views.
Dates: 2012/07/21, 07/29, 08/05, 08/08, 08/19, 08/25, 08/26
Main Venue: Atami Port
Number of Fireworks: 5,000 per day (approx.)
Expected Attendance: 170,000 total
Access: Walking distance from JR Atami Station.
Fireworks over pristine Lake Kawaguchi in the shadow of Mt. Fuji...it doesn't get much better than this! With the official festival on Aug. 5th, fireworks will also be set off on the eve, Aug. 4th, giving visitors two chances to "ooh" and "aah".
Main Venue: Lake Kawaguchi
Number of Fireworks: Undecided
Expected Attendance: 140,000
Access: Walking distance from Kawaguchiko Station.
One of Japan's three major fireworks festivals, Tsuchiura's is an authoratitive competition with the Prime Minister's Cup awarded to the top fireworks workshop, so spectators are guaranteed a fantastic show as workshops from throughout Japan show off their absolute best.
Main Venue: Tsuchiura
Number of Blasts: 20,000
Expected Attendance: 800,000
Access: Shuttle available from JR Tsuchiura Station.
This exciting summer festival is extremely well-known as one of the top festivals in Japan, and the fireworks display towards the end is the icing on the cake. Don't miss your chance to be part of this incredible night. Tickets for special festival viewing seats are available for online booking!
Main Venue: Sakuranomiya Park and Kawasaki Park areas, Osaka
Number of Fireworks: 3,000 (approx.)
Expected Attendance: 1,300,000
Access: Brief walking distance from Sakuranomiya Station on the JR Loop Line and Temmabashi Station on the Keihan Main Line.
Less than an hour from Kyoto and Osaka lies the largest freshwater lake in Japan, spectators can enjoy a variety of colorful explosions over this scenic body of water.
Main Venue: Otsu Port, Lake Biwa
Number of Fireworks: 10,000
Expected Attendance: 350,000
Access: Brief walking distance from Hamaotsu Station, Keihan Line. Walking distance from Otsu and Zeze Stations, JR Biwako Line.
As its name suggests, this fireworks display is a bit different. Based on an old local legend, men dressed as demons blast their powerful, hand-held "demon fireworks" skyward to purify and dispell the misfortune of onlookers. Besides being a rather unique and striking experience, spectators have the chance to take pictures with the "demons" afterwards.
Date: Thursdays and Fridays, 2012/06/01 - 08/10
Main Venue: Noboribetsu Jigokudani ("Hell Valley") lookout area
Number of Fireworks: 24 per performance
Expected Attendance: 34,290 total
Access: Walking distance from the Noboribetsu Onsen Bus Terminal (take a bus from JR Noboribetsu Station).
This long-running fireworks festival spans half the year, offering plenty of opportunities to watch the display while the fireworks boats move about the lake. It is worth noting that strong winds can cause cancellations when the boats can't leave port.
Date: Daily, 2012/04/28 - 10/31
Main Venue: Lake Toya
Number of Fireworks: 350 per day (approx.)
Expected Attendance: n/a
Access: Brief walking distance from Toyako Onsen (take a bus from JR Toyako Station).
Top off a trip to this naturally beautiful and hot spring-blessed area with a gorgeous fireworks display. Held on the banks of the Tokachi River, this is Hokkaido's biggest fireworks festival.
Main Venue: Tokachi River
Number of Fireworks: 20,000
Expected Attendance: 190,000
Access: Walking distance from JR Obihiro Station. Shuttle available (fee required).
The massive scale of this fireworks festival is breathtaking. In addition to the tens of thousands of colorful blasts, the mountains completely surrounding Lake Suwa create a unique auditory experience.
Main Venue: Lake Suwa (Map!)
Number of Fireworks: 40,000 (approx.)
Expected Attendance: 500,000
Access: Brief walking distance from Kamisuwa Station, JR Chuo Main Line.
Another of Japan's top three, this fireworks festival is held over two days of the Nagaoka Festival.
Date: 2012/08/02 - 03
Main Venue: Shinano River
Number of Fireworks: 20,000 per day (approx.)
Expected Attendance: 850,000 total
Access: Walking distance from JR Nagaoka Station.
One of Japan's top three fireworks festivals, this year marks the festival's 102nd birthday. This is also the only fireworks display in Japan that is held at midday.
Main Venue: Omono River, Daisen City
Number of Fireworks: 15,000
Expected Attendance: 800,000
Access: 30-minute walk from Omagari Station, JR Akita Shinkansen.