Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Giant 650 Meter Fireworks! Nagaoka Hanabi in Niigata
Written by MIKIKO.Y
The Nagaoka Festival Fireworks is one of the Three Great Fireworks Festivals of Japan. We'll be introducing the festival along with some amazing photos.
Fireworks color the summer night sky in Japan. Have you ever heard of one of the Three Great Firework Festivals of Japan, the Nagaoka Festival Fireworks (Nagaoka Matsuri Hanabi Taikai)?
Today we'll be introducing the firework culture unique to Japan and the Nagaoka Festival Fireworks that take place in early August.
*This is coverage of the 2015 festival.
Originally a "Memorial"
The Nagaoka Festival Fireworks originally started as a memorial and as a sign of peace.
Just before the end of World War II, on August 1, 1945, Nagaoka was bombed and more than 1000 people lost their lives. The Nagaoka Reconstruction Festival, which later became the Nagaoka Festival Fireworks, was started the following year to revive Nagaoka.
The opening starts with white shiragiku (chrysanthemum) fireworks. These fireworks are a memorial for the victims of the Nagaoka bombing.
From here, we'll introduce our 3 especially recommended fireworks that appear after the shiragiku.
1. A Huge 650 Meter Diameter Firework
The Nagaoka Fireworks are famous for the sanjakudama.
The size of a firework depends on the size of the shell that is shot into the air. This firework shell has a diameter of 90 centimeters, weighs 300 kilograms, and using a whopping 80 kilograms of explosives. This is the maximum weight allowed by law. This huge shell explodes into a 650 meter diameter flower in the sky.
2. Various Themed Fireworks
There are various ways that the fireworks shoot up. For example the "Niagara Extra-Large Starmine" in this photo.
The fireworks are set up on a huge bridge and come pouring down from the sky, like a fiery Niagara Falls.
Kono Sora no Hana Fireworks
There are also fireworks that are associated with the drama "Tenchijin", which depicts Nagaoka's famous generals, or fireworks commemorating the movie "Kono Sora no Hana - Nagaoka Hanabi Monogatari". At this festival they strive to create fireworks that are in line with the times.
3. The Heart of the Citizens: Fukkō Kigan Phoenix
Fukkō Kigan Phoenix
In 2004, the Niigata Chūetsu Earthquake hit this area. The Fukkō Kigan Phoenix (Reconstruction Prayer Phoenix) is made in prayer for the reconstruction and revitalization of the area.
True to its name, the phoenix-like fireworks leave a light trail, as they are shot up from 6 different lined up launch pads. Along with music that will make you feel like you're in outer space, your vision is completely covered in grains of light.
What To Be Careful Of
If you want to get the best view of the fireworks, it's best to watch from the viewing seats. But these tickets require reservations, so they might be hard to get. Around the Chōseibashi Bridge and Ōte Ōhashi Bridge you can generally get a good view without purchasing a viewing seat ticket, so you don't need to worry if you don't get a reservation beforehand.
The 2016 Nagaoka Festival Fireworks will be held on Tuesday August 2 and Wednesday August 3.
Fireworks are crucial to the summer season in Japan. We highly recommend stopping by the Nagaoka Festival Fireworks, feeling the warmth of the citizens, and thinking about the stories that each firework has.
Nagaoka Festival Fireworks
Address: Nagaoka-shi Chōseibashi downstream Shinanogawa riverbed
Hours: Early evening (see website for details)
Closed: Fireworks depend on the weather
Nearest station: JR Nagaoka station (長岡駅)
Access: 20-minute walk from Ōte Exit, walk along Ōte-Dōri
Website: Nagaoka Fireworks Festival