Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai

Tokyo, Kanto

The evening sky of oldtown Tokyo is brightly colored with several tens of thousands of fireworks.

One of the major fireworks displays of Tokyo. On the last Saturday of July, the oldtown evening sky turns into a spectacle of dazzling colors from several tens of thousands of fireworks. This annual event is said to have originated in the custom of the common people of Edo viewing fireworks while enjoying the cool of the summer evening. According to other explanations, its roots are said to lie in the Suijin Festival dedicated to the water deity held to appease the souls of those who had died of starvation or of plague and to drive away pestilence during the reign of Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth Tokugawa Shogun (1684-1751). In the late Edo period, the festival was called Ryogoku Kawarabiraki and attracted many Edo townspeople. Traditional shouts of “Kagiya!” and “Tamaya!” voiced when the fireworks are set off, originate in Ryogoku Kawarabiraki when spectators yelled out the names of the leading fireworks manufacturers (Kagiya and Tamaya) at the time. The festival survived the Meiji Restoration, and in the latter half of the 19th Century (Meiji – Taisho – early Showa eras), it was held almost every year. Although suspended because of too much traffic or too many buildings in the neighborhood, from 1978 onwards it was revived under a new name, Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai (Sumida River Fireworks Display). This has now taken root as one of the delightful scenes of the summer season in Tokyo.

Good spots for viewing the fireworks display are along the Sumida River which flows through the eastern part of Tokyo and empties into Tokyo Bay. In particular, the neighborhood around Asakusa Station throngs with crowds of spectators. It used to be held near the Ryogokubashi Bridge, but today, it has been moved upstream. Venue No.1 covers the area from downstream of Sakurabashi Bridge to upstream of Kototoibashi Bridge while Venue No.2 is located from downstream of Komagatabashi Bridge to upstream of Umayabashi Bridge. Because the river is narrow and has a river terrace, with buildings huddled together close by, only fireworks of a maximum of one gosundama (about 15 cm in diameter) are permitted. Yet fireworks seen from the spaces between tall buildings are really quite breathtaking.


[Walk]On foot from Asakusa Station on Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
Venue No.1: from downstream of Sakurabashi Bridge to upstream of Kototoibashi Bridge
Venue No.2: from downstream of Komagatabashi Bridge to upstream of Umayabashi Bridge
Last Saturday of July
(held in case of light rain but postponed if the weather is bad)
Taito-ku and Sumida-ku, Tokyo

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