The fireworks displayed at Japanese fireworks competitions come in many types. By taking some time to learn some of the better known fireworks and their features, you can better enjoy the shows!
Launched one at a time with a loud bang, the kiku is a typical firework often used in Japanese shows. A special feature of the kiku is that as it rises, a thread seems to trail behind, and when the firework opens in all directions, it draws the shape of a chrysanthemum.
The senringiku explodes with a bang and then, after a beat, the night sky is filled with innumerable small flowers that bloom in great beauty before fading away.
The star mine is a launching technique. It is a method used to successively launch tens, hundreds or even thousands of fireworks in a short time with careful controlled timing. Pyrotechnics is said to be an art made of light, color, sound, and pause. It is the star mine technique that brings these all together, something that is essential to make any good fireworks show go off well.
Gunpowder is packed into a row of pipes, which are then lit all at once. The result is a waterfall of sparks that looks like a shower of light.
At fireworks competitions in Japan, people can be heard yelling "Tamaya" and "Kagiya" during the show. These were the names of two historical fireworks houses in Edo (as Tokyo was known before it was the capital). At the time, the two houses were on either side of a bridge spanning the Okawa River (now the Sumida-gawa River) and they would compete there with fireworks. The cheers of the onlookers caught on as a popular cheer that continues to be used even to this day.
Securing an ideal viewing place is always a priority, and the best way to do that is to avoid the crowds by arriving early. Those with small children in particular should avoid the busiest times. Some venues have set entrance times. Check beforehand so you know when to arrive.
Finding a place near the launching ground is great, but sometimes, a location farther back may provide a better view (because of crowding at nearer locations). Also, buildings may impede views in some directions from the launching area. Check beforehand to know where to go. Also, smoke may impede the view of fireworks, so if smoke is an issue, we recommend finding a place upwind of the launching area.
As of June 2018.