- The history of the skyrockets that garland Japan's summer
- The magnificent fountain-style
"tezutsu hand-held fireworks" are the origin of all fireworks
- Skyrockets that bloom on a grand scale and capture in an instant the fascination of huge crowds of observers. Come the summer, huge numbers of people look forward to regional fireworks festivals across the country which provide the opportunity to marvel at a wide range of unique skyrockets. The roots of these pyrotechnics lie in the Aichi Prefecture and Mikawa regions of the Sengoku period, and the tradition of "tezutsu hand-held fireworks" that has been handed down since then. They weren't originally developed in order to provide amusement as they do today, rather, they formed part of a solemn Shinto ritual that sought to ward off evil spirits and bring about rich harvests. And the style of these fireworks was truly primitive! They were quite unlike the great gunpowder balls fired high into the sky with a bang that we see at almost every fireworks festival these days. The pyrotechnicians would hold a great lit cylinder from which they released "fountain-style" fireworks that formed an intense pillar of fire raining down showers of sparks, which was quite a fantastical sight. Of course, the moment the sky was filled with sparks was one of mortal danger for the pyrotechnicians holding the fireworks. The tezutsu hand-held fireworks that are used today still subject the holder to such huge tension that they don't even notice the heat.
- Toyohashi Station [Tezutsu hand-held fireworks]
- The fireworks shows of Lord Ieyasu,
great proponent of firework development
- Once the Sengoku period had given way to the Edo period, it is said that Lord Ieyasu Tokugawa was the first to enjoy fireworks as a show, at Sunpu Castle. Sunpu Castle records of the time note how gunpowder was inserted into bamboo cylinders and ignited in so-called "tachihanabi" which resembled the tezutsu hand-held fireworks. It is not difficult to imagine the great surprise and fascination that the inquisitive Lord Ieyasu must have felt. These fireworks shows staged by Lord Ieyasu formed the impetus for Mikawa, his place of birth, to become a major center for firework production and displays. Another part of the historical background is that the Mikawa region had been a key military gunpowder production area for some time, and after the end of the Sengoku period, when demand for gunpowder declined, the explosive was diverted to use in fireworks.
- Which will be the hottest fireworks festivals this year? Feel the dynamic force close up
- Japan, a country made into a fireworks superpower by technological innovation
- Before long, skyrockets had spread in popularity among feudal lords and Edo townspeople, and evolved into a summer leisure activity. For example, on the Sumida River, popular as a place of refuge from the heat. People came in droves clutching their fans and climbed aboard "suzumi-bune" pleasure boats to watch the fireworks while enjoying meals and sake. The well-known fireworks manufacturers, "Kagiya" and "Tamaya", were established around this time. The fireworks craftsmen strove to out-do each other with their creations, whose beauty drew cries of adulation "Kagiya!" and "Tamaya!" from the Edoites watching.
But what were they really like, these fireworks of Edo replete with divine artisan skill? In truth, the fireworks of this period were still a reddish orange monochrome, and their brightness was limited. It was the Meiji period that saw a shift beyond this style. Oxidizing agents, chemiluminescent agents, and red and blue flame coloring agents (metal compounds) were imported, and the creation of a wide variety of lights, colors and sounds became possible. However, with this increased range of raw materials, the risk of explosion rose equally, meaning that the firework craftsmen polished their skills amidst danger. The popularity of fireworks never waned, and some of the post-war firework festivals began to feature contests between the craftsmen. Out of such friendly rivalry, skyrockets evolved rapidly. Today, Japan is known as one of the major fireworks nations around the world, and its skies are the scene of vast numbers of large blooming flowers every year.
- Kakegawa Station [Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks All Japan Fireworks Master's Invitational Competition]
- A variety of wonderful fireworks festivals captivate many people every year
- Fireworks festivals have come to be held all around Japan, not to mention along the Tokaido including Mikawa and Edo. Nowadays, fireworks are seen not only in summer, but at the finale of large events regardless of the season. Even the styles have evolved from the single skyrocket type to things like the "starmine", multiple fireworks set to shoot up at once, "submerged fireworks" that open up like a fan above water, and "Niagara" in which sparks pour down like a waterfall from dangling pipes filled with gunpowder and ignited simultaneously, just to mention a few. Some fireworks are set to music, and these complex events have become entertainment shows much loved by men and women of all ages.So which fireworks festivals do you want to go to this year? The powerful explosions that shake your body, such glitter as you have never seen before in your life. You have to be there to look up at the sky and feel the sense of togetherness with everyone at the venue. Why not find out about what each festival features so you can enjoy the very best of the fireworks?
- Atami Station [Atami Sea Fireworks Festival]
updated on Sep 30, 2016
- Sightseeing information related to this theme
Tokaido Shinkansen Stations