Bucket List: Summer Hanabi in Japan

Fireworks in summer is one of Japan’s most famous experiences. It is in every anime I’ve watched so far and it has been in my bucket-list forever.

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I’m in Japan right now; so I was definitely going to see hanabi. In summer, there are firework shows almost everyday, but I decided on the biggest show around my area, the Nishinippon Ohori Koen Fireworks Festival!

‘450,000 visited last year’ O_O Well then…

To see the hanabi, people go to Ohori-Koen as early as 10 am to get a place (the show starts at 8 pm). But I could go only in the evening and I reached Ohori Station at 6 pm. I have never seen so many people in one place. It was freaky and hot and sweaty (thank goodness for my uchiwa or I would’ve surely fainted halfway through). But the atmosphere was electric. It was so lovely to be surrounded by gorgeous people in yukata. I did not have enough eyes to take it all in! In spite of the crowd, it was orderly with increased no. of ticket-gates and the crowd moved steadily out of the station.

The first view of the packed Ohori Park was mind-blowing. I’ve been to Ohori-koen before and I know how huge it is. But it was completely packed. The seats around the lake were all filled. I walked around the lake for the next two hours looking for a place to watch from. It was a fun walk with lots of things to look at – the steadily moving crowd, the yukatas and the food stalls. I bought a candy apple to munch on (Yay! One more thing from my to-do list!).

Crowd inside Ohoro-koen Station

Crowd inside Ohoro-koen Station

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Crowd at where I was standing to watch the show…just a few mins before the show started!

It was quite clear that I would have to stand for the duration of the show. About 10 mins before 8, I settled down at a place with no trees nearby to block my view of the sky. The show started sharply at 8. A single firework lighting up a rope over the lake that lead to a display with the ‘Nishi Nippon’ name. And then, it was all up in the sky! And it was glorious!

It was a non-stop, one and a half hour show! Some of the fireworks I particularly liked where the ones that made shapes – hearts and bunnies! There was one which exploded into a sphere but the sphere was in two colours and in exact halves.

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GIF made from the videos I took! Yup! These were the actual fireworks from the show!

The finale had a section of full golden fireworks that lasted non-stop for almost 5 mins and the whole sky was sparkling gold and it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen!

Finale Gold! - GIF made from the videos I took!

Finale Gold! – GIF made from the videos I took!

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GIF made from the videos I took!

There was a moment when I was staring up at the fireworks and it hit me that I was actually there. That I was in Japan. I was not looking at the fireworks through a computer screen. But I was standing there. I started crying, just a bit, couldn’t help it. So many nights when I felt struck and useless, so many people who told me that I was making a mistake and that I couldn’t make it. It was worth it all. I’m glad I didn’t give up and more importantly, I’m glad I didn’t compromise. My legs were aching from walking and standing for so long, I was completely drenched in sweat but I was actually there. In Japan. Under the hanabi!

Getting home after the show was crowded but organised. There were clearly marked pathways and extra trains. It amazed me that I had spent more than 4 hours in that huge crowd but I never felt stifled, no one pushed me or knocked me down and it was so easy to move around.

Overall, it was an unbelievable experience. The crowd, the sounds, the yukatas and the food stalls, the lights and the buzz and of course the actual fireworks itself – it was an sensory overload, in the best possible way! I can’t wait to go to another fireworks show!

P.S.: This is my candy apple! It was gloriously tasty..though it took me a while to figure out how to start eating it XD

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