Monday, February 22, 2016

Omagari Fireworks Festival 2015

This is another pending blog post from 2015. On 22nd August 2015, hubby and I went to see Omagari Fireworks Festival in Daisen City of Akita prefecture. It is one of the major fireworks festivals of Japan that has been held since 1910 on the dry bed of Omonogawa River. This year was the 89th edition of Omagari Fireworks Festival. The festival attracted about 710000 spectators from entire Japan to Daisen City, and about 18000 fireworks were displayed. The festival is an annual national fireworks competition that is divided into three categories, namely, the daytime fireworks called Hiru Hanabi, 30 centimeters round-shell fireworks, and creative fireworks called Sozo Hanabi. Sozo Hanabi is an annual competition where fireworks artists from all over Japan compete to show off their latest fireworks products and techniques. This year was the 52nd year of Sozo Hanabi. For those who are interested, the details about the shapes and sizes of Japanese fireworks can be found at this website.

Hubby and I go every year to see Omagari Fireworks Festival, and viewing the fireworks has become an annual ritual for us. On 22nd August 2015, we started from our home at about 7 am and took two picnic chairs and a picnic sheet with us. It took us about 1.5 hours of car ride to reach Daisen City. We parked our car at a parking area located near Omagari Railway Station in the city. The parking area was very far from the fireworks display venue, and we had to walk for about an hour to reach the venue. It was a rainy day and we got rather wet while walking towards the venue. On reaching the festival site, we waited for about an hour in a long queue and finally reached the ‘unreserved seating area’ at about 10.30 am. We searched for an open area for seating and were lucky to get a nice place to sit though the ground was very wet due to heavy rain the previous night. We spread the picnic sheet and reserved the area for us to sit and view the fireworks later in the evening. Hubby was a bit worried about the probability of cancellation of the fireworks festival due to the bad weather, but there was nothing we could do except wait for the evening. At about 11 am, we left the fireworks venue and went to Omagari Technical College located in the city center and attended a seminar on the history of Omagari Fireworks Festival in a huge hall of the college building. The seminar was for about 45 minutes and it was quite interesting to know the details of the history of the fireworks. Later we had lunch at one of the many food stalls that were put up in the city center. After lunch we walked back to the car parking area near Omagari Railway Station. While walking we saw several artistic and beautifully designed manhole covers commemorating the fireworks festival. Such decorative manhole covers were of two kinds, namely metallic and colored ones. After reaching the car parking area, we took rest for a few of hours inside our car. In the hot and humid weather of the month of August, we could spend the next few hours in the comfort of our air-conditioned car.
From the car parking area, hubby is walking towards the fireworks display venue in Daisen City

I am walking towards the venue

Hubby posing after reserving a seating area at the fireworks display venue

Hubby a bit worried about the probability of cancellation of the fireworks festival due to the heavy rain and bad weather

Hubby and I attended a seminar on the history of Omagari Fireworks Festival in a huge hall of Omagari Technical College building

Hubby listening to the seminar attentively

I am having lunch at a food stall put up in the city center

Hubby having lunch

In the city center we saw beautifully designed metallic (left) and colored (right) manhole covers commemorating the fireworks festival

Hubby relaxing inside our car

I am relaxing and eating snacks inside our car

The display of daytime fireworks started at 5.30 pm but we skipped seeing it as we were not much interested. At about 5.40 pm, we left our car and walked back to the fireworks display venue. We had some difficulty in locating the seating area that we had reserved earlier in the day as the crowd at the festival site had increased tremendously. Eventually we found our seating area and sat down. The ground was wet but there was festive mood all around, and people were busy eating and drinking with friends and relatives.
Hubby and I are sitting at our seating area and waiting for the fireworks display to begin

At 6.50 pm the nighttime fireworks display started with an ‘opening event’. Next, the nighttime national fireworks competition started at 7.05 pm. For the 30 centimeters round-shell fireworks and creative fireworks categories of the competition, 28 fireworks artists and manufacturers from all over Japan competed and showed off their techniques. There were spectacular displays of fireworks that used latest fireworks technology and intricate techniques. We enjoyed viewing various kinds of colorful shapes and patterns formed in the night sky. In between the creative fireworks competition, there were four grand fireworks displays called ‘sponsored special event’. These fireworks displays were sponsored by many companies and local organizations but were not included in the competition. These fireworks displays were choreographed to exciting popular music. The fireworks rose into the sky one after another and then exploded into spectacular colorful patterns. There was an additional fireworks display called ‘special program’ where a few companies and organizations collaborated to give a wonderful display of colors and lights. The theme of the ‘special program’ was ‘Hikari no Kanata e’ which means ‘to beyond the light’. The display was really amazing. In addition, at about 8.45 pm there was a fireworks display called the ‘main event’ where different fireworks artists and manufacturers collaborated to give an exquisite display of sounds, colors, lights, and patterns. The theme of the ‘main event’ was ‘Asakiyumemishi’ which is ‘the tale of Genji’, and about 2300 fireworks were launched in 6 minutes and 25 seconds. The fireworks were deployed synchronously from several locations spread out across a large area of 550 meters. The passion of the fireworks craftsmen was on grand display and it made a great impression on us. Finally at about 9.30 pm, there was a ‘final event’ where a fantastic display of mostly round-shell fireworks was carried out. We randomly clicked many photos of the fireworks display. Please enjoy seeing the photos.

Many photos of Omagari Fireworks Festival

It rained on and off throughout the fireworks display but we were happy that the fireworks was not cancelled due to the bad weather. We loved seeing the grand, exquisite, and spectacular display of the fireworks. We left our seating area at the fireworks venue at about 9.45 pm. Due to the huge crowd we had to walk for almost 2 hours to reach the car parking area where we had parked our car. It was about 1.30 am of the next day when we reached back our home.
Hubby watching the fireworks display intently

Hubby enjoying the fireworks display

I am very happy after seeing the entire fireworks display


Bushra Muzaffar said...

Lovely fireworks...loved reading your experience of the day, Manisha. Those manhole covers were cool too :)

ArchanaC Kapoor said...

great account and lovely pictures dear :-)

Sumandebray said...

nice pictures and good to know a bit about this festival. Is this all about fireworks display.
No fancy costumes, or folk song or dance, I wonder.
These fireworks are done by individual artist and displayed by the organizers. Very talented set of people
Thanks for sharing

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Bushra Muzaffar for your nice comment.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Archana Kapoor :)

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Sumandebray for your comment. Omagari Fireworks Festival is one of the top three fireworks festival of Japan and is held in a very grand national scale. So only top organizations and companies participate in this competitive festival. The fireworks display venue is huge and about 800000 people attend at a time. So the focus is only on the fireworks competition..... Songs, dances, food festivals and many other small competitions are held about 3-4 kilometers away from the venue at Daisen city center.