5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival - Waku Waku

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5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival

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5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival

You see the arrival of summer in Japan when the night sky is constantly illuminated with bouquets of "HANABI" (fire-flowers). Starting mid-July, extravagant fireworks shows are held in different prefectures in the country. These festivals gather huge crowds every year, but attending one is without a doubt worth braving the throngs of people and the sweltering heat.

Kari Minobe

Kari Minobe

Published on 28 Apr, 12:00

Luckily, I visited Japan just in time for the Lake Biwa Great Fireworks Festival, which was held along the coastline of Lake Biwa. Here, I'll share bits of my experience as well as five tips for going to a summer matsuri (festival).

5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival

1. Make the experience even more special by wearing a yukata – a lightweight kimono worn during the summer

Of course, there isn't any particular dress code when attending a matsuri, but if you want the full-blown experience, then don't miss the chance to wear a yukata! You don't even have to buy one because most cities offer yukata rentals at reasonable prices.

2. Essentials!

  • Flip flops and band-aids

If you're wearing geta sandals and have sensitive feet (like me!), then make sure to bring flip flops. You have to take note that some venues may be far from the train station or parking lots, and may require a lot of walking. Like for us, our parking was a good 20-minute walk to the venue so by the time we arrived, I already had blisters forming on my feet.

  • Mats or foldable chairs, or both

I prefer using foldable chairs since they can easily fit in almost anywhere compared to mats, which take up a lot of space.

  • Portable fan

Although yukata is made of breathable material, the summer heat can still get uncomfortable, especially if you're not used to warmer climates. That's why during this season, these rechargeable fans have become the norm to beat the heat.

5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival
  • Snacks and Drinks

Make sure to also have a plastic bag with you for your trash.

  • Powerbank

Keeping yourself entertained during the long waiting time is sure to drain your phone’s battery life, and this device will keep your phone alive until the end.

  • Extra clothes

For a more convenient travel home, I suggest to change out of the yukata after the festival.

3. Go to the venue early!

5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival

This is probably the most important out of the five, especially if you're going for free-seating. Never underestimate the locals and their preparedness!

We arrived at the venue 3 hours before the event, yet the place was already packed. There were even a number of tents already set up. But thanks to my mom, we secured a spot just at the edge of the designated pathway.

4. Don't forget to look up from your phone or camera

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, it was finally time for the fireworks display. At first, I watched through my phone screen, determined to record the show as much as I could. But during the finale, when the sky lit up in different colors, I looked up from my phone, completely in awe. It was breathtaking.

5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival
5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival
5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival

5. Change into comfortable clothes before going home

Right after the festival, we looked for the nearest portable toilet and I changed out of my yukata. I wore a sports bra and biker shorts underneath, so all I had to do was wear a long sweater over it.

And thank goodness, I did because I have never seen so many people walking in the streets of Japan until that night. I can't even begin to describe how long the queue was at the train station. And even though we went by car, we had to wait until midnight (the fireworks display ended at 8:30 PM) before we could leave since some of the roads were closed for the event.

5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival
5 Tips for attending a Hanabi (Fireworks) Festival

Looking back, the day was pretty exhausting – from the hours of waiting under the sun to blisters and backaches from sitting on a foldable chair. But it was a small price to pay to be able to witness such an unforgettable spectacle.

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Kari Minobe

Kari Minobe

Hi, I'm a half-Japanese, kawaii-loving girl from the Philippines. In my free time, I juggle writing poetry, making art, and playing with my fur baby. I dream of traveling the world and moving to Japan permanently. But for now, I take pleasure in virtually sharing Japan's beauty and uniqueness.

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