Amazing Big Phantom Style Hanabi In Japan
First of all – hot Japanese summer festivals with focus on advanced computer controlled Hanabi fireworks at night is an absolute magic experience! Magic with a big M character.
I had never seen anything like this before I moved from Europe to Japan. The Japanese synchronized fireworks are extraordinary cool! World leading pyrotechnics at its best.
Above you can see a photo that I took at the Hanabi festival in this local Japanese town where I live. Summer festivals are highlights that most Japanese locals look forward to.
In my case the evening began with a phone call where I was told that the car roads to town center were already being blocked by the intense traffic.
I got the tip to hurry up and try to leave home immediately to even have a chance to find a possibly still available parking spot somewhere in town center. By that time it was about one hour left until the fireworks show would start.
To reach there in time the best solution was to take a detour around the city on the at the moment yet not closed car road. The normally ten minute car ride took almost one hour.
In this town the fireworks summer festival is held once per year. To many young people here it’s one of the highlights of the year in this area.
Hanabi is an old Japanese cultural tradition to watch fireworks together with someone you love and care about. An experience of colorful magic.
It even has its own word in Japanese (はなび).
On your right you can see a Japanese Hanabi poster that I took a photo of here in Fukuoka prefecture. That one is held close to Nagasaki.
It shows the Hanabi World Cup 2011 where experts in professional fireworks compete in bringing you the most spectacular and advanced fireworks show ever witnessed on this planet.
To find an available car parking location was quite a challenge. Thanks to the organized Japanese society there were lots of dedicated car parking lot people out on the streets to direct car drivers to still available parking spots. People even parked on baseball fields.
Now it was only a few minutes left until the fireworks show would begin. A famous old traditional Japanese enka music song was played through public street speakers.
After that a young female voice began counting down in Japanese. If you know enough Japanese language to understand how to count using the correct words, then you could know exactly how many seconds there were left until the first fireworks were lauched.
Japanese police had stopped all car traffic on the streets close to the water canal where the fireworks festival was to be held. You can see the red colors of the police car sirens in my picture below and a couple of the kind police officers making sure people are safe.
Exactly when I took that photo the first fireworks were rushing through the air into the night sky to explode up there in spherical shapes of colorful light beams shining on us.
I had not yet reached to the river – which is located on the left side of the street in the above photo. That’s where all the Japanese were heading towards. I followed the crowd.
A long line of Japanese night market booths were setup next to the river bank.
I walked along the higher up located car street, but I could see the night market booths between the tree branches and leaves. You can see it too through my photo here above.
Many things are sold on the Japanese Hanabi night market tables, but one specific type of item seemed to be something of a best seller.
The winner is of course the glowing Japanese electronic toy swords for kids. A festival favorite.
I could see such get sold everywhere around me.
Kids were walking with blinking neon glowing items throughout the night.
The small town was glowing in the dark, only to become brighter by the half an hour long Hanabi fireworks festival show that just began.
While the first set of magnificent blue fireworks flashed high up in the sky, I kept walking straight forward along the side of the river to find a better view of the fireworks event.
Finally I found a great spot close to the river and joined the Japanese crowd gazing at the sky.
Some of the Japanese women wore clothes that to an untrained Western tourist eye may look like a Japanese Kimono, but actually it’s a Yukata.
In Japanese culture it’s a volunteer pretty uniform for women to wear at Summer during Hanabi.
Since the summer here in Japan is very hot and humid, then it’s more comfortable for women to wear a thin casual Yukata than a thicker as well as much more expensive Kimono dress.
The Japanese word Hanabi (はなび) is combined by two other words.
The first word is Hana, which you (if you have been reading my previous posts) by now most probably know means flower.
Flower in Japanese is used as a word to express something beautiful or pretty looking.
Fire in Japanese is the sound HI, which can be expressed with the Hiragana syllable ひ.
According to Japanese grammar, when two words are combined into a new word then sometimes the beginning of the second word change its initial Hiragana symbol.
We would like to combine the Japanese words hana + hi, but according to grammar rules the hi becomes bi. The first h-sound becames a b-sound instead.
I will cover such grammar changes and their exact rules with very easy to follow beginner friendly step-by-step instructions in separate posts on my website, so anyone can learn.
For now you only need to know that the word hi becomes bi when it’s the second word (forming a new word). Hana + hi = hana + bi = hanabi = fireworks in Japanese.
Fireworks in Japanese language means beautiful fire, or flower fire to be really exact.
I took these photos (above and below) of the beautiful art of Japanese Hanabi waterfall, or Niagara Falls as it’s called here on Kyushu island. A falling down river of glimmering sparkles through the air in front of people’s faces. Mirrored in the clear mountain river.
I must admit that it felt like a magic moment in my life to experience this in real in Japan! The cheering Japanese crowd. Cascades of colorful bursts in the air. 30 minutes of bliss.
As you can see in my photo, the sky is lit up, but people remain dark in the background.
Therefore I tried to take a night shot with my camera, but I didn’t have any tripod with me so I had to hold my digital camera by hand. Long exposure time, so shaky image as well.
I apologize for the low image quality, but at least you can see the amount of Japanese people standing next to me along the river watching the fireworks show up in the sky.
If you know how to read the sounds of Japanese Hiragana syllables, then you may recognize the word written with fireworks in my photo to the left.
It says がんばろう in Japanese, which is read ganbarou in case you translate each Hiragana character separately, but it sounds like ganbaroo (with a long o-character sound at the most end).
What does it mean? It means -”Do your best!”.
After those words it says the name of this local Japanese town with two Kanji symbols, but those were too detailed to be visible with flame writing.
You understand that it means the following:
-”Do your best [choose your own town name]!”.
Like saying -”Do your best Tokyo!”.
Notice that the GA character looks very similar to the KA character in Hiragana. In fact Japanese Hiragana GA is the exact same character as KA, but with an extra “dakuten”.
Hiragana recycles its first 46 basic characters by slightly modifying them with a sign.
If you’re not used to Hiragana, then don’t worry. Dakuten is only two small short lines (or otherwise a tiny circular ring) that you put on top of an already existing Hiragana symbol.
That way you can manufacture a GA character by modifying a KA character with two extra lines on its top right corner.
You can see exactly that in my previous above photo how a Hiragana GA symbol looks like. It’s the first character most top in the vertically written Japanese word (ganbarou).
What happened to that last U-character in the word? The symbol for U in Hiragana is often used as a special symbol, just to tell that please copy the ending vowel of the previous character and extend it so that it sounds longer.
The last U is not pronounced at all. Instead it only carries a grammar rule tip to follow.
In this case make the ending O-sound of the RO syllable sound longer than normal.
Kind of doing RO + O = ROO, but using RO + U characters in Hiragana to express that.
Enough grammar. Let’s continue with the fireworks from our Japanese summer festival!
This beautiful heart shape (as seen in my photo below) was created with live colorful sparkles through a moving lower mouth piece most down that kept changing its direction at a high speed – at the same time as flying out fireworks kept exploding as a red heart.
To watch Japanese fireworks at night is a hot task. The weather is very warm and people sweat like pigs by the heat. I didn’t check the temperature this year, but last year at same time of the year we had +38 C (100.4 F) at night! No sunshine. Dark outdoors – and hot.
Because of the heat people feel thirsty and many get hungry as well. Can be a profitable business for night market street vendors to sell ice cold drinks and grill tasty food meals.
Below you can see a photo that I took of a temporary outdoor festival night grill vendor.
Looking at the people next to the river buying food and drinking something delicious that cools them down made me inspired to do the same as soon as the fireworks finish.
Meanwhile the bursts of light rays continued to flicker up in the sky at the same time as the air became more and more filled with dense smoke.
In my picture to the left you can see people’s profiles most down while higher up in the sky you see some of the synchronized fireworks art.
It was amazing to see how the free fireworks event could continue non-stop for half an hour with all kinds of shapes and type of expanding color shapes in the night sky.
Toward the end of the show the type of fireworks seemed to be more expensive because shock waves in the air felt much more concentrated and hard. A physical pressure in the face and chest.
It said kaboom for half an hour and it’s quite long time while you keep watching for what’s going to happen next.
I couldn’t stop noticing all the glowing objects in the darkness. The colorful blinking toys that Japanese kids played with.
Here’s a glowing festival toy that I took a picture of. The little kid is pressing a button and the glowing toy begins to spin in a circular motion at the same time as it plays a melody.
Meanwhile the young Japanese mother is watching the colorful Hanabi sky patterns.
Finally the fireworks show escalates into a fast pace apocalyptic set of colorful bursts.
You can see one of the street level solar panels in my picture to the left.
It’s visible against the white smoke cloud.
I have this last part of the summer festival fireworks show recorded into video, but I didn’t include it into my website yet. For now it’s enough with these summer festival photos.
Maybe later on I may add it as extra free material to dedicated visitors interested in Japanese fireworks (or who simply wants more content).
After the spectacular last ending phase of the fireworks show, it became time for people to walk back from the water canal to the more central part of the city.
That is what I call the Japanese mass exodus. Many tens of thousands of festival people crammed together into one single narrow space. It takes a while for people to leave.
That’s what the next photo is about. I took this while following the masses of the crowd.
While I walked with the Japanese people on the street I began feeling an intense thirst.
My choice of wearing long pants had been a choice of disaster. I was boiling hot by the heat, even though it was late night.
Suddenly I remembered a Japanese TV show where they asked people the question: -”Which cloth type cools people down the most? A mini skirt or long skirt?”.
I don’t wear a skirt since I’m male, but I noticed how many Japanese women were dressed in mini skirts while others used more traditional long skirts (as well as Yukata dresses).
Which type do you think gives the best cooling down effect? For a woman to wear a short mini skirt or long skirt? Make your guess.
When I saw that TV program here in Japan, then I guessed on mini skirt…but that was the wrong answer. The correct answer was the long skirt, because its cloth material functions as a fan cooling off the legs compared to the mini skirt which doesn’t help to cool off the legs at all. Nowadays there are plenty of modern mini skirt models of Yukata.
So the traditional Yukata type of female dress was actually a good choice in the past age Japan before air conditioners were invented. In this modern age nobody here in Japan would accept to live without having a chilled down cool stream of air from an AC.
Another creature of the night in Japan is this red laser beam swinging Sith Lord or possibly far away lost cousin of Darth Vader in Star Wars.
No, it’s actually just one of the Japanese traffic control guys on the streets, but when I see them in the dark holding their red glowing light saber sticks – it sure looks a bit like Star Wars to me.
With as many people as there are in Japan, it’s a great relief to get assistance of a parking guide like this glowing Sith Lord who can wave your car in to help you find a guaranteed empty parking space, or assist you out on an over crowded car street without having to worry about bumping into other vehicles.
Across the street I saw two other Japanese light sabre waving Jedi warriors stopping the car traffic to help people pass to the other side. You can see that in my photo below.
One of them points his sword up while the other one holds it diagonally down. If they had been standing closer to each other it could have looked like a red laser sword battle. It could have been a great photo opportunity worth catching.
So many people were passing on the street in front of me that it was difficult to take a picture of the situation. Luckily I managed to take this photo exactly when most of the crowd had passed by in front of my camera.
Though this little kid with the huge yellow toy sword on his back and a dreamy face expression toward the Jedi knight behind me passed by exactly in front of the camera.
In my picture below you can see summer festival street vendors at the night market selling anything from french fries to cooled off drinks and toys to the passing by crowd.
One of the young Japanese girls selling something is wearing a traditional casual Yukata. The type of clothes I described earlier as a Kimono alternative. It’s used during Hanabi.
If you thought the red laser beam gesticulating Star Wars inspired car stopping Sith Lords were cool, then maybe you should buy an upgraded magic sword that not only glows in the dark, but also blinks and plays long forgotten melodies from the dark side of to mankind known universe.
These glowing toy street vendors were some of the last chances for the summer festival visitors to buy themselves a memory of the Hanabi festival. Especially fun for the kids.
Though impressed by the variety of blinking swords I still couldn’t stop thinking of something cold to buy so that I could get a cooling down effect from the intense hot temperature at night. It was time to take a closer look at the night market.
Luckily for me this Japanese street vendor man sold exactly that. Ice cold tropical slush.
The young lady in front of me had a portable organic AC with her…a fan. I recognized the picture on her fan. It’s one of the band members of the Japanese pop group Arashi.
Japanese towns no matter if they are big or small buzzle with life at dark.
Night clubs open, bars welcome early evening visitors and a variety of services are available to those who wish to have a good time.
This small town in Japan is no exception. With small I don’t mean small by number of inhabitants, but small compared to relative city size in Japan.
Japan covers everything from sleepy fishing villages to the huge metropolis of Tokyo.
Even though the night life is fun and tempting – I didn’t join the available after party opportunities because I got busted by this invincible female magic sword pointing Jedi, as seen in my last photo here below.
Yeah, it’s my Japanese wife…giving me the ultimatum to either follow her back home to my family and thereby also get access to that ice cold slush in her other hand – or taste the divine power of her glowing and blinking magic bad ass looking sword pointing at me.
A more advanced model than the red laser sabres seen earlier among the Sith lords.
Married as I am – I had no option than to capitulate and follow my Asian wife’s ultimatum.
Filed under: Japan Festival
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