Japan has a tradition of shooting off fireworks in the summertime at events called 花火大会 (hanabi taikai).  There is pretty much one every day somewhere in Japan for the whole summer.  A few of the shows can involve over 100,000 fireworks.  This page has a listing of all the 花火大会 in 2010.  The first fireworks show that I went to this summer was the 江戸川区花火大会 (edogawa-ku hanabi taikai), the show put on by the Tokyo ward Edogawa yesterday.

I left with Aimee, Laurel, and Austin about an hour and a half before the show.  An hour and a half was not such a good idea. We had to take the Yamanote line to Akihabara then switch to the Sobu line and take that to some far-away station in Edogawa. I had the route figured out on Google Maps, so had a reasonably good idea of how to get to the general location, but not much as far as the specifics go. The ride on the Yamanote line was not bad at all. However, upon getting to Akiba and going upstairs to the Sobu line platform, I began to realize the fix we were in. There were so many people there that we couldn’t get on the first train that came. When we finally managed to get on, we got squeezed onto the train. Literally. I have never experienced anything like it before. It’s a wonder they got the door shut. Now I completely understand why the station attendants sometimes have to push people into the train to get the door closed. We decided to go with the flow and get off where everybody else did because they obviously knew something we didn’t. So we piled off the train at Shin-Koiwa as I recall. It was amazingly crowded. We managed to find our way out of the station and then followed a group of people wearing yukatas down a side street. We weren’t really close enough when the show started, but the sight of fireworks in the distance meant we didn’t have to follow anyone in particular to find a good spot.

After missing the first few minutes of the show, we finally arrived at a small hill in Shinozaki park (篠崎公園 shinozaki kouen). The fireworks were being launched on the far side of the hill, so we set up shop at the bottom.  The show was an hour and ten minutes long, so missing the first few minutes really didn’t make much difference.

The show was amazing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a few of the smaller fireworks since we were too far back on the hill and I didn’t have a wide enough lens to really do many of the bigger bursts justice. However, it completely blows away all of the 4th of July shows I’ve seen in the U.S. I mean, the show they do on the lake every year is pretty neat, but it’s nothing compared with this one. I took way too many pictures, though. I filled up my 2 gig CF card and put a pile more on my 4 gig card. Ah, well. It was worth it.

After the show, we all stopped and got a bite to eat. We stopped at this interesting restaurant where you buy raw meat and then cook it right at the table. It was pretty good, but it’s a little expensive. I’m not entirely sure why, though. It’s not like the cooks have to do more work…

Anyway, a small selection of fireworks shots are included below.