Saturday, November 6, 2010

Omagari fireworks festival

On August 28th, hubby and I went to see Omagari fireworks festival in Daisen city of Akita prefecture. It is an annual national fireworks competition held on the dry bed of Omonogawa River on the fourth Saturday of August. It is one of the major fireworks festivals in Japan that has been held since 1910. In the fireworks competition about thirty fireworks artists selected from all over Japan compete to show off their techniques. The competition is divided into three categories: hiru-hanabi (day fireworks), 10-gou warimono (shakudama which are 12-inch round shell fireworks), and sozo-hanabi (creative fireworks). Omagari was the first competition in Japan to incorporate sozo-hanabi as one of the categories for its evening display in 1963. In recent years, the fireworks displays are orchestrated to music which offers greater enjoyment to the audience.

This year was the 100th anniversary or the 84th edition of Omagari fireworks display. It attracted an audience of about 800,000 from entire Japan to Omagari city (a part of Daisen city since 2005), which only has a population of about 40,000 people. The display started from 5 pm and about 15,000 fireworks were displayed. We started from our home at about 9 am and bought two foldable picnic chairs and a picnic sheet from a nearby home center store. It took us about 1.5 hours of car drive to reach Omagari. Hubby had to park his car at a parking area that was very far from the fireworks display venue. So we had to walk for almost an hour to reach the venue. As we neared the festival venue, we saw many people walking towards the venue. There were people who came from faraway places in their cars and camped overnight near the site.

On reaching the festival site, we saw a huge crowd of people searching for an open area for seating. There were several reserved seats for which tickets had to be purchased in advance. However, most of the people preferred to just go early and look for an open area for seating. We were lucky that we got a nice place to sit within fifteen minutes of our search. After getting a seating area, we realized that it was just 12.30 pm and still many hours remained for the fireworks display to begin. It was a very sunny and hot day, and it was impossible for us to sit under direct sunlight for another five hours. So after reserving our seating area, we left the fireworks venue and went to a nearby place where there were a few office buildings having car parking areas with shades. The offices were closed due to the day being a holiday and there were no cars at the car parking area. We spread a picnic sheet and sat under the shade of a car parking. There were several people around us and it was fun to relax for about four hours under the shade. Hubby bought fried noodles yakisoba, grilled chicken yakitori, sausages, shaved ice kakigori, and cold drinks from a nearby food stall. We had a picnic and enjoyed eating and drinking while relaxing under the car park shade.
Hubby relaxing and eating a sausage

At about 4.45 pm, we walked back to the fireworks venue and sat at the seats that we had reserved earlier in the day. Hubby was rather uncomfortable as it was still very hot and humid. At 5 pm, display of day time fireworks hiru-hanabi started. Hiru-hanabi competition is held in daylight using enryu (smoke dragon) and round shell warimono fireworks. We were engrossed in the beautiful display of colorful smoke patterns and forgot to take photos of the display. Somehow I could manage to take one photo of the display. Hiru-hanabi display ended at about 5.40 pm.
Hubby feeling very hot and uncomfortable at the fireworks display venue

A colorful pattern of day time fireworks

People enjoying day time fireworks

The sun set at about 6.20 pm and it was much cooler afterwards. Hubby and I felt relief from the hot weather and were comfortable after the sunset. At about 6.50 pm, the night time fireworks display started, which included a grand display of 12-inch round shell fireworks and creative fireworks. This year twenty seven fireworks artists and manufacturers from all over Japan competed and battled for the title of ‘Best in Japan’ with an amazing display of light and sound. There were spectacular displays of highly advanced fireworks that used latest fireworks technology and very intricate techniques to form various kinds of colorful shapes, patterns, and animation characters in the night sky. I compiled a video of the ‘opening event’ of the fireworks festival. In addition, hubby took a few photos of the various amazing patterns of the night time fireworks displays.

Video of the ‘opening event’ of the fireworks display

Various patterns of night time fireworks

Various patterns of night time fireworks

Various patterns of night time fireworks

Various patterns of night time fireworks

Various patterns of night time fireworks

Various patterns of night time fireworks

Various patterns of night time fireworks

Various patterns of night time fireworks

In between the creative fireworks competition, there was a fireworks display called ‘main event’ where different fireworks artists and manufacturers collaborated to give a wonderful display of colors and patterns. The theme of the five-minute event was ‘chousen - aratanaru 100 nen no hajimari’ which means ‘challenge - a new beginning of next 100 years’. We were overwhelmed by this fireworks display, and became intoxicated by the sounds that rattled our bones as the colorful flames and patterns danced in the sky in rhythm to the music played. The masterpieces and passion of the fireworks craftsmen were on grand display.

Video of the ‘main event’ of the fireworks display

This year was the 100th anniversary of Omagari fireworks festival. So another additional fireworks display called ‘special event’ was held to commemorate the anniversary. The theme of the five-minute event was ‘furusato sanka - Omagari no hanabi 100 nen’ which means ‘paean to hometown - 100 years of Omagari fireworks’. The fireworks display was grand. Choreographed to exciting music, the fireworks rose into the sky one after another and then exploded into spectacular patterns. It was an exquisite display of original color, style, and light.

Video of the ‘special event’ of the fireworks display

The display of creative fireworks by various fireworks manufacturers continued after the ‘special event’. At about 9.40 pm, there was a ‘final event’ where a spectacular display of mostly round shell fireworks was carried out. That day there was little to no wind which created standstill smoke that made it a bit difficult to view the ‘final event’. But still it was very nice.

Video of the ‘final event’ of the fireworks display

The fireworks display came to an end at about 9.45 pm. It took us about 45 minutes just to go out of the venue due to the huge crowd. It took another 1.5 hours of walking to reach the car-parking where we had parked our car. It was about 2 am of the next day when we reached back our home. We were very tired due to staying outside for almost 17 hours but we thoroughly enjoyed the Omagari fireworks festival and the grand display for color, sound, and light.

Wishing everyone a very happy Diwali.


Rajesh said...

Beautiful fireworks.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Glad to know that you liked the fireworks Rajesh.


Ohhhhhhh !!!!!, Manisha it reminded me of the recent and most celebrated Indian festival 'Deepawali'.
A grand firework display,biggest in the world,I think, was just awesome.
I enjoyed videos of all three categories and goshhhhhhh!!!,it was superb. 8.0 lacs people and 3 major events testify how big this annual festival must be in Japan. Day time smoke dragons were new for me.The synchronization of different patterns and orchestration with music was excellent.

I also learnt a few names of Japanese dishes,If I am correct ,they are : Sevaiyan (Yakisoba),Tandoori Murga/chicken (Yakitori),and Lachhedar Kulfi (Kakigori).Am I right Manisha ?.

Thanks for sharing .

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you Dr. Yadav for your comment. Yeah, the fireworks reminded me of Diwali.

Omagari fireworks festival is held on a grand scale. I am not sure whether it is the biggest in the world or not, but it is definitely in Japan.

There were actually 33 fireworks events, each about 5-6 minutes long, at this festival. I uploaded videos of only four events here. Hope you enjoyed them.

Yakisoba and yakitori looks like sevaiyan and tandoori-murg but actually the spices used are completely different and therefore taste very different. Kakigori is definitely kulfi :)