Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Fireworks, or hanabi are a hugely popular and very important part of Japanese summer. People get dressed up in traditional Japanese yukata and makes their way with thousands of other people to see hanabi. Magazines and web portals dedicate large sections for information on hanabi, which you can find somewhere almost every weekend during the summer.

The Jingu hanabi show is a non-standard because it happens in the middle of Tokyo. (Most are over the beach, bays, lakes or in the countryside.) Jingu is the Tokyo baseball stadium and they pack the stadium with people and shoot fireworks almost right over the stadium. The fireworks are low, huge and loud. It is an immersive experience. That is combined with a stadium full of screaming people. Replace the traditional "oohs and ahhs" with "OMG OMG WTF" The streets and rooftops all around the stadium are full of people who are getting the benefit of the fireworks for "free". (I wrote about the business model of fireworks last year.)

After these last few hot and humid days, the hanabi reminded me that there are at least a few things to look forward to in Japanese summer.

95 K movie


When I was growing up near Osaka, the biggest event in summer was fire works at Koshien stadium, which is substancialy larger that Jingu, 100,000 people capacity, 5 minutes walk from my home. I thought Tokyo fire works have traditionaly been on the Sumida Gawa and not as good as those at Koshien Stadium. Am I correct? You kindly took Nikki to the Sumida Gawa fire works several years ago. She still talks about the experience and the fire works.

Recently, I stayed 9 days in a hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
What was the most surprising was restaurants in Tokyo. The good to excellent ones in Tokyo reached the qualities of average restaurants in Osaka , Kyoto, and Kobe. It is a remakable progress.
Do you agree or not?

Sounds neat, here in Texas people just get drunk and blow their fingers off. ;p

Nice. It reminds me the movie "Hanabi" wich was made by Takeshi Kitano sensei! :)

I think people in Tokyo would say that they are as good as the best restaurants in the south. ;-)

Not a bad fireworks shot at all considering it was taken with a mobile. Or was it?

One of my happiest memories in life so far is enjoying the hanabi at the Matsue Suigo Matsuri in early August. The humidity can be oppressive, but the temperature is just part of the beautiful Japanese southwestern countryside that is so lush this time of year.

Hi Joi,

My wife and I went to see the PL fireworks this year, south of Osaka. In its heyday it was the biggest in Japan -- by Kansai reckoning at least -- but is now a shadow of its former self, lasting just a triffle over an hour. It happens annually on August 1 to commemorate the death of the 'Perfect Liberty' religion/cult founder, within easy view of their BIZARRE Roger-Dean-esque tower HQ, inconveniently set above a private golf course. Everyone had to squat in the road (eventually closed down by police because of all the people). There were relatively few food stalls and very few toilets. Certainly not the sort of organized event I had come to expect from the other major fireworks in Japan. And, unfortunately, there was virtually no wind this year, so the fireworks eventually just vanished into this ever-accumulating cloud of smoke.

Next year, we are certainly going to return to the very impressive Yodogawa hanabi, and one day, I hope to go to the display in Yokohama, which is now the biggest display, from what I have read.