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The annual Japanese fireworks display, Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai, sees several tens of thousands of fireworks showered across the black backdrop of the Toyokan night sky. The annual event showcases Tokyo's best firework producers, who set off their flares along the Sumida River in a competition to paint the night's sky with their craftsmanship and give the crowds the most invigorating show.
It's a huge affair, with some 900,000 visitors flocking to gaze at the sky ablaze. Boats take passengers up the river and offer the best views of the fireworks, although space is restricted. Alternatively Asakusa's Sumida Park is a hotspot; despite the unavoidable crowdedness the vibrant mood is second-to-none. Spectators can also taste hot sake, the signature Japanese drink also sometimes called 'rice wine,' and corn-on-the-cob from stalls that line the river.
The firework displays are a science, an art and a pyrotechnic candyshop. The artists intricately choreograph their sequences, releasing an impressive range of flares whose names you can only attempt to pronounce. It is an apt reflection of the esteemed role that fireworks play in Japanese culture; the Japanese word for firework, hanabi, translates as fire-flower and the colourful sparks are considered a metaphor for ephemeral beauty.
Some say the event originated as homage to those who died of starvation and plague during the reign of Tokugawa Yoshimune between 1684-1751. Others claim it developed from the Japanese lower classes who used firework displays as entertainment on cool summer evenings. Wherever the event blossomed from, it is now the largest display in Tokyo.
The show is from 7:00-8:00pm on Saturday 28 July.For more information see the Sumida River Fireworks Festival website. Japan
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