1. Check event dates beforehandphotosteve101/Flickr
First and foremost, we need to get the dates and location down. If you have your itinerary all set already, you could search online for fireworks festival in the places that you are planning to visit. We recommend that you expand your search by stating the name of the prefecture that you are going to. You could also use the site, Walkerplus to check the dates and location out. It’s a very convenient online travel guide that has all the necessary information that you need on all the fireworks festival in the whole of Japan.
Homepage: hanabi.walkerplus.com/ (Japanese Only)
2. Find out what’s the best way to get there
Fireworks festivals are held nationwide but regardless of how major and famous the festival is, do check out the directions to head there cause it might be held at a remote area. Search online for fireworks festivals that you can get to easily using the train or the bus. For example the fireworks festivals like Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival, Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival and Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival in Tokyo are easily accessible with the available train and subway lines.
3. The devil is in the details
It would help in your planning if you got to know the fireworks festival that you are eyeing on in detail. Make sure you got the start time right. Different fireworks festival start at different times but in general most major ones will start when the sun sets around 7pm to 8pm. The event usually last from 1 and a half hours to 2 hours but most fireworks festivals might offer special features halfway during the show, so it would be best to find out if the fireworks festival that you are planning to go to, is going to have anything special or not. Oh and you would probably want to stay right at the end of the event cause that’s when they pull out all their shots.
4. Plan with leeway
Expect a huge huge crowd on the day of the event at the location and during commute. To make the whole experience more comfortable and to play it safe, we recommend that you give yourself more time to head there and to get out of there when the event ends.
5. Keep an eye out for the best seats
It’s important to know where to sit so that you can catch the beautiful fireworks. It’s doesn’t have to be the seat closest to the fireworks but it should be a seat where you can sit comfortably and watch the whole event without anything blocking your view. If you have the time, you could look for blogs that write on what seats are the best for certain fireworks festival to make your experience a more memorable one.
Homepage: utuyoiro.net/763.html (Japanese Only)
6. Don the summer kimono, yukata
To truly get into the summer celebration, how about wearing a yukata for the fireworks festival? Although yukata is a traditional Japanese kimono, these days you can get them easily and at very affordable prices. If you are planning to travel light, you could opt to rent yukatas too. The link given below gives you a kimono shop that you can go to to rent a pretty yukata to wear during the fireworks festival.
Homepage: www.kouei-kimono.com/yukata.html (Japanese Only)
7. Bring a fan along
Although the event is held at night but the summer days and nights in Japan are really hot and humid and to keep yourself cool, you would definitely need to bring this handy item along. You can easily get them from the 100 yen shops or you could get them for free from stores that are located near the event’s location because these stores use the fans as an advertisement gimmick.
8. You need insect repellentDanny Choo/Flickr
When summer hits Japan, it brings mosquitoes along with it. The mosquitoes won’t give you anything contagious but it will cause you discomfort with the non-stop itching and scratching and you wouldn’t want to get distracted during the whole fireworks event! There are many types of insect repellent available in Japan from spray types to ointment ones. Remember to grab one before heading over to the event!
9. Bring a picnic mat along!
Fireworks festivals usually go on for a long time and if you were to stand throughout the whole event, your legs might just give way. That being said, there are no benches or chairs available at the site and even if there were, you would probably have to get there super early to get a seat. So in order to sit and enjoy the show, you would need a picnic mat to lay on the ground. We recommend the plastic ones just in case it rained the night before. You could use it to reserve a spot for you and your friends and just in case your friends haven’t arrived yet and you would like to head to the nearest store to buy food and drinks, all you have to do is lay the picnic mat down and leave it as it is. It’ll serve as a sign that somebody has already taken that spot. Picnic mats are not expensive and they can be easily bought at convenience stores or the 100 yen shops.
10. You might want to prepare some rain gear.
In Japan during summer, it is quite common to experience rain out of the blue at night. Just to be safe, we definitely recommend you to bring rain gear along with you to the event. You could bring a raincoat or an umbrella but we recommend you to bring the foldable ones. Even though the foldable ones may not look as sturdy as the normal ones but fret not because the ones here in Japan are pretty sturdy and it won’t block other spectators’ view of the show, compared to the usual umbrellas. Plus, the foldable ones here come in a wide variety of colors and designs. You’ll have fun choosing the one you want. You could also buy some to bring back for your family and friends.
11. Don’t miss out on the food stalls.
On the day of the event, there will be stalls set up near the location that serve simple and yet yummy food like yakitori and takoyaki. There are also stalls that have traditional games like goldfish scooping and ringtoss and stalls that sell masks for children. To enjoy this feature of Japan’s summer, we recommend you to head to the location earlier so that you can enjoy what the stalls have to offer before the event starts.
12. Head to the toilets beforehand.
The fireworks event is about 2 hours long and once it starts, the fireworks are continuously shot into the air and you shouldn’t miss any minute of it, so we definitely recommend you to go to the toilet first before the event begins. There aren’t that many toilets near the location so be ready for long queues in front of the toilets too.
13. Turn off your phones
So the event has finally started. The next thing that we should do is to (unfortunately) turn our phones off. You wouldn’t want to be distracted by messages, alerts or calls coming in. Plus, your flashing phone might bother the other spectators. But of course, if any one of your members haven’t arrived yet and you are waiting for him or her to contact you when they arrive, you should probably keep your phone turned on but on silent mode.
14. Hydration is key.
Summer in Japan can be very tough as it is not only hot but super humid too. As the fireworks festival is outdoors, you would need to hydrate yourself well to make up for the water loss from being outside for so long. Buy enough drinks to bring along with you because there will be many people at the location and once the event starts, it might be difficult for you to head to the store to buy drinks.
15. Keep the drinking at a minimum.
In Japan, there is no problem in drinking in public areas and having some beer while watching the fireworks color the sky is just the perfect thing to do on a summer night. But keep it to a minimum cause you wouldn’t want to end up drunk and robbing yourself from the beautiful fireworks show. Plus, you wouldn’t want to make a fool out of yourself and bother other spectators.
16. Stay to the very end!
Stay put at your seat until the event is truly officially over. You might think that you have just witness the last firework of the day but the pyrotechnic experts are well known for teasing the spectators and sending up another firework when the previous one has already exploded and faded away. So remember don’t leave until the event officially ends!
17. Enjoy the booming sound of the explosions.
The fireworks festivals in Japan is not only about the bright colors but also about the booming sounds the fireworks make. It makes the whole experience exciting every time the fireworks explode with a loud bang. You might find it interesting that regardless of the excitement, not one spectator makes a sound when the fireworks explode. That’s one of the many interesting Japanese etiquette practiced during public events.
18. Practice your photography skills first.
Any spectator here would want to immortalize the experience here by taking pictures of the show but it’s not easy to take beautiful pictures in the dark. So before heading to the event, you might want to search online for tips on how to take pictures of fireworks and try them out first. If you still fail after 2 to 3 tries at the day of the event, we would recommend you to just turn off your camera or phone and relax to enjoy the show instead. You wouldn’t want to get too overworked and then missed the sole purpose of coming to just enjoy the spectacular fireworks performance.
19. Check the last train out.
The event will end quite late at night. If the event is at a place where public transportation still runs late into the night, or if you are staying close to the location, then there shouldn’t be much to worry about. Other wise, it would be best to check the time when the last train departs. Also do bear in mind that since there will be many spectators, the train station will be crowded and you may need to wait a few more turns before you can finally board the train. To avoid the crowds, you could walk to the 2nd nearest train station to board the train instead.
20. Stay close to the location.Debs (ò‿ó)♪/Flickr
For those who have come from afar to attend the event, they may not be able to catch the last train back to their place. If your accommodation is located relatively far from the event’s location, we would recommend you to book at least one night at a hotel, inn or youth hostel close to the event’s location so that you won’t get stranded.
21. Don’t keep it to yourself.
There is a way for you to make the whole experience last a little longer even after the event has officially ended by sharing your experience with others. Telling others about the event will only make the memory stronger and it might also encourage your family and friends to attend the event the next year!
Recommended Fireworks Festivals in Tokyo
Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival (Tokyo)
Date and time：July 25, 2015 from 7:05pm to 8:30pm (for the first area) and from 7:30pm to 8:30pm (for the second area)
Location: The first area spans from the downstream area of Sakurabashi Bridge to the upstream area of Kototoibashi Bridge while the second area is from the downstream area of Komagatabashi Bridge to the upstream area of Umayabashi Bridge.
Free of charge (but you can pay to get the best seats in the event that begin from 5000 yen)
Details：This is one of Japan’s longest serving fireworks festivals that started from the Edo period and every year, close to about 100,000 people would attend the event!
Homepage: sumidagawa-hanabi.com/ (Japanese Only)
Katsushika Noryo Fireworks Festival (Tokyo)
Date and time: July 21, 2015 from 7:20pm to 8:20pm
Location：Shibamata Baseball Field (by the Edogawa riverbed), Katsushika Ward
Free of charge
Details：This is one event that you can see the spectacular fireworks up close and plus since it is located at one of the old towns in Tokyo, you will be able to enjoy the fireworks show while taking in some traditional Japanese culture.
Homepage: hanabi.walkerplus.com/detail/ar0313e00861/ (Japanese Only)
Edogawa Fireworks Festival (Tokyo)
Date and time: August 1, 2015 from 8:15pm to 8:30pm
Location: Edogawa River (Shinozaki Park)
Free of charge
Details: Depending on the theme for that year, the fireworks are arranged to be in sync with the music played in the background. You can also opt to ride on the houseboats and view the fireworks festival from it.
Hompage: www.city.edogawa.tokyo.jp/hanabi/ (Japanese Only)