Today may have been the best way to start of the summer after a rough semester. After spending a day of relaxing and doing some light cleaning, Jun and I met some friends at the station to grab some dinner and go to the city’s annual fireworks display. After eating dinner at a chain Italian restaurant, we ventured onto one of the most crowded trains I have ever been on leaving Kawagoe. Unlike in Tokyo where they will literally push people onto trains with wooden poles, the station workers did not do that. Still, it crowded enough that you could not move any part of your body in fear of knocking the person next to you over. Once we arrived at the station, it was a “20 minute” walk to the park where the fireworks display was being held. This would not have been bad if I had not been wearing geta to go with my yukata.
Now, one thing you have to know about fireworks is that they are a HUGE part of Japanese summer culture. During the summer in Japan, fireworks festivals are held nearly everyday someplace in the country. In fact, there are more than 200 during the month of August. The festivals consist of large fireworks shows, the largest of which use between 100,000 and 120,000 rounds! Street vendors set up stalls to sell various drinks and staple Japanese food (such as Yakisoba, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, kakigori(shaved ice)), and traditionally held festival games, such as Kingyo-sukui, or Goldfish-catching. So pretty much when you go to see fireworks in Japan in the summer, you are going to one big party. The fireworks shows also last around 2 hours – the one we went to tonight was from 7:30 to 9.
The fireworks were breathtaking and the grand finale was so big that the entire sky was lit up in gold. The golden colored fireworks used in the finale were probably some of the biggest ones I have ever seen. I am not sure if I will get to go to another fireworks festival this summer, but at least I got to see my city’s display.