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Sumida River Fireworks Festival 2024: Schedule, Access, and Highlights

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The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is an annual event held in July in Tokyo. In 2024, the festival will be held on July 27 (Saturday) from 19:00. Read on to learn about the highlights of this event and its history, how to access the venues, and other tips.

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Sumida River Fireworks Festival: The Most Awaited Summer Event in Tokyo

Sumida River Fireworks Festival

Picture courtesy of Sumida Ward
The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is an annual event held on the last Saturday in July in Tokyo. This is a fireworks festival in which a constant barrage of fireworks are launched from two separate locations along the Sumida River: the Sakura Bridge and the Komagata Bridge, which are both close to Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree.

From near Sakura Bridge (the first venue) about 9,350 fireworks are launched, while from the Komagata Bridge area (the second venue) about 10,650 fireworks are launched, so spectators can view a grand total of more than 20,000 fireworks.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival 2024: Schedule and Access

Date and time: July 27 (Saturday), 19:00 - 20:30
Fireworks: About 20,000
Official website: https://www.sumidagawa-hanabi.com/

Locations: Banks of the Sumida River, between Kototoi Bridge and Sakura Bridge (Venue 1) and between Komagata Bridge and Umaya Bridge (Venue 2)

Access to Venue 1: 15 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station and Tobu Asakusa Station (various lines).
Access to Venue 2: 5 minutes on foot from Kuramae Station (Toei Asakusa Line).

To see more details on the locations, please check the official website of the event

Book the Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, or 72 Hours)

A Summer Event with a 400-Year History

Sumida River Fireworks Festival - 2019 Schedule, Access And Highlights

The Sumida River Fireworks Festival dates back roughly four hundred years to the Edo period (1603-1868).

During a terrible famine in 1732, many people died of starvation. The following year, the eighth shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune held the first-ever Ryogoku River Fireworks Festival. This suijinsai (*1) event was held to comfort the spirits of the deceased and pray that those living would be free from famine or other misfortunes in the future.

This festival is considered to be the origin of the Sumida River Fireworks Festival.

During the war and also because of river pollution, the festivities were discontinued on a number of occasions, but in 1978 the former festival was renamed the Sumida River Fireworks Festival. It became an annual event.

*1 Suijinsai: A water god festival held to drive away misfortune and disasters during a period in which flooding and plagues often occurred.

Light Flowers Bloom in the Evening Sky

Sumida River Fireworks Festival

The Sumida River Fireworks Festival lighting up the night sky. Picture courtesy of Taito Ward

There's a wide variety of brilliant fireworks to gaze up at during the festival. For example, the starmine, which launches a large volume of fireworks in steady succession, and exhibition fireworks (shikake hanabi), which are known for their images of logos and illustrations.

Warimono, or large round fireworks, despite being set off only one time, can really pack a punch and are well worth watching.

In addition, there are fireworks with a seasonal flavor such as snails, fish, and other creatures, all the way up to pop culture images. Look for happy faces, characters like Anpanman, and even Pokemon Pokeballs.

The shape of the images can change depending on which vantage point you’re watching from, so walking around to find the perfect viewing spot might be an interesting thing to do as well.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival

Sumida River Fireworks Festival. Picture courtesy of Sumida Ward

Something to watch for in particular is the fireworks competition, in which 200 fireworks are launched from location one.

A total of ten fireworks companies participate in the competition. Seven of the companies have a connection to the Sumida River and three companies are known nationwide for their pyrotechnical expertise. All feature their latest masterpieces and compete against each other.

The presentations put on by the companies are evaluated by the spectators. The scoring system is used to help improve and advance firework technology in the years to come, so this competition is something you don’t want to miss.

About one million people visit the Sumida River Fireworks Festival each year. Many sightseeing spots, like Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Skytree, are very close by, so visitors to Tokyo can also easily come and join in the festivities.

This is an event that truly gives you a taste of summer, so not attending is simply out of the question!

Book the Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, or 72 Hours)

FAQ

Where is the best place to watch the fireworks at Sumida River?

For the optimal experience of the Sumida River Fireworks Festival in Tokyo, prime viewing locations include Sumida Park along the riverbanks, Asakusa with its cultural charm, and various spots along the Sumida River such as parks, bridges, and walkways. The serene setting of Hamarikyu Gardens in Shiodome also provides an alternative backdrop for enjoying the fireworks. Opting for a Sumida River cruise offers a unique perspective of the display from the water. Several bridges like Komagata Bridge and Kototoibashi Bridge are renowned for their excellent vantage points. Planning to arrive early is advisable to secure the best viewing spots due to the festival's popularity, ensuring a memorable experience of the stunning fireworks against Tokyo's skyline and the Sumida River.

What time is the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival?

The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival in Tokyo typically starts in the evening, usually around 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM. The exact timing can vary slightly from year to year, so it's a good idea to check the official schedule or local announcements closer to the date of the event for the most accurate starting time. The festival usually lasts for a couple of hours, featuring a spectacular display of fireworks lighting up the night sky along the Sumida River, offering a dazzling and memorable experience for spectators.

Why is the Sumida River famous?

The Sumida River in Tokyo is celebrated for its rich cultural significance, featuring prominently in literature and art. The river's banks are home to iconic landmarks like the Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa, drawing tourists to the area. Known for hosting the famous Sumida River Fireworks Festival, the river is a hub of summer celebrations, attracting crowds for dazzling displays. River cruises offer a scenic perspective of Tokyo's skyline and historic sites. The Sumida River plays a central role in Tokyo's cultural scene, hosting various events and festivals that contribute to its status as a vibrant and dynamic area in the city.

Where can I view Sumida River Fireworks?

During the Sumida River Fireworks Festival in Tokyo, prime viewing spots include Sumida Park along the riverbanks, various locations in Asakusa offering cultural charm and riverside views, the elevated perspective near the Tokyo Skytree for a panoramic display, the vantage point at Umayabashi Bridge known for good views, and the unique experience of viewing the fireworks from a river cruise along the Sumida River. These locations provide diverse perspectives of the fireworks against Tokyo's skyline, ensuring a memorable experience for spectators. Due to the popularity of the festival, arriving early and planning ahead can help secure the best viewing spots for enjoying the dazzling fireworks display along the Sumida River.

What is the history of the Sumida River Fireworks Festival?

The Sumida River Fireworks Festival in Tokyo traces its roots back to the Edo period, where it began as a religious ritual to appease spirits during times of plague and calamity. Evolving over the centuries, the festival transitioned into a beloved public entertainment event, captivating audiences with its dazzling displays. Today, the festival stands as one of Japan's largest and most famous fireworks spectacles, symbolizing Tokyo's vibrant culture and communal spirit. A cherished summer tradition, the festival continues to draw millions of spectators each year, both locals and visitors, who gather along the Sumida River to witness the breathtaking fireworks that illuminate the night sky, merging tradition, artistry, and community in a celebration that links the city's past with its present vibrancy.

*This is a revised 2024 version of an article that was originally published in 2020.
Main image courtesy of Pixta.


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