Chikugo River Fireworks Festival

August has arrived,
and with it, the festival season in Japan!

Summer brings a plethora of traditional festivals that allow you to experience Japanese culture.

Among these, I’d like to introduce the Chikugo River Fireworks Festival, the largest-scale event in western Japan, attracting over 450,000 spectators annually.

Chikugo River Fireworks Festival

Chikugo River Fireworks Festival

The Chikugo River Fireworks Festival traces its origins back to the celebration of the completion of Suitengu Shrine in the year 1650 (Keian 3). With a history spanning over 350 years, this festival revolves around a grand fireworks display. While it lacks processions of mikoshi (portable shrines) and floats, as well as bon dances and parades, it compensates with a mesmerizing display of 15,000 to 18,000 fireworks illuminating the night sky and reflecting on the water’s surface. Along the riverbanks, around 400 stalls selling various goods offer a spectacular sight.

In the imagery of fireworks, in the UK, fireworks are launched on the commemorative day of Guy Fawkes Night in November to pray for peace. In France, fireworks are set off to celebrate New Year’s. In the United States, fireworks are often launched during the celebration of Independence Day.

However, it’s quite unique that in Japan, fireworks festivals are frequently held across the country from the beginning to the end of summer, with displays lasting nearly two hours. Japanese fireworks come in various types and are known for their vibrant and colorful displays, captivating the observers.

Events like the Chikugo River Fireworks Festival exhibit a grand scale, drawing such massive crowds that one might wonder, “Where is everyone coming from?”.

I strongly urge you to witness and experience it with your own eyes at least once.

 

Indispensable to any festival are the food stalls and vendors. The origin of these can be traced back to the Edo period, when merchants known as “boude handuri” carried scales and poles, making it easier to sell grilled fish and oden. This convenience led to the proliferation of carrying stalls and covered booths, forming the origins of these stalls.

At the Chikugo River Fireworks Festival, you can savor delicacies such as:

・Takoyaki
Creative variations like Samurai Balls
・Hashimaki
Regional specialties like Yakisoba
・Yakitori
Enjoy chicken in its finest form
・Yakimorokosi
Fragrant with the aroma of soy sauce
・Karaage
Unmistakably delicious
・Buttered potatoes
The ultimate way to enjoy potatoes
・Chocolate bananas
A collaboration of chocolate and bananas
・Candy apples
Japanese version of the classic treat
・Cotton candy
Japan’s version of spun sugar candy
・Baby castella
Perfect size for on-the-go snacking
・Tornado potatoes
A visually stunning treat that never fails to amaze
Beyond just food, these stalls offer more. You can enjoy:

・Target shooting games
The excitement of festival shooting games
・Goldfish scooping
A game unique to Japan where you scoop up goldfish
・Yo-yo fishing
A common question is, “How do you play with this yo-yo?”

In recent times, alongside the classics, a variety of offerings have emerged, from kebabs and Italian spa buns to visually appealing items like light bulb sodas and drip juices.

And of course, when it comes to festivals, donning a yukata (casual summer kimono) is a must. Yukata, with its myriad designs, showcases the Japanese ingenuity to stay comfortable in the hot summer.

If you’re eager to try on a yukata, there are rental services available for you to experience this tradition. Feel free to inquire for more information.

Festivals offer a chance to engage with Japanese history, connect with local communities, and experience aspects of Japan that you wouldn’t encounter through regular tourism. Moreover, during festivals, the Japanese people are remarkably open, enabling unique interactions that are exclusive to these occasions.

We invite you to immerse yourself in the energy of Japan by participating in its festivals.

Next, we’ll spotlight festivals featuring mikoshi (portable shrines).

Thank you for reading until the end.