Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival 2016 (Tokyo, Japan)

A festival in the middle of Tokyo over the Sumida river near Asakusa, with a rich history since 1543.

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival 2016 (Tokyo, Japan)

On the last Saturday of July the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival (official website) is being held over the Sumida river near Asakusa in Tokyo. This festival has a rich history what goes way back to the year 1543, altough it can be traced back to 1732. I visited the Edo Museum and the Ryōgoku Fireworks Museum to find out more about this festival.

Poster of the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

Poster of the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

A sign at Arakawa Station informing about closing roads

A sign at Arakawa Station informing about closing roads

The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival is a competition between families, companies and groups. Each one tries to do their best to give a spectaculair firework show with different colors, patterns, technique, effects and shapes (like characters and faces).

In the Tokugawa period of Japan (1603 - 1868) at the entrance of the city Edo (now called Tokyo), they launched fireworks as part of the festival for the dead. At that time there was a big economic crisis and many suffered from diseases. This festival is about to celebrate life. In the beginning this festival was called Ryōgoku Kawabiraki and became an official tradition at 1810. The two major rivals where the Tamaya and Kagiya pyrotechnicians guilds. The one who won had more power for next year's festival. Nowadays in the Japanese culture it is common to yell "tamaya" while watching fireworks.

A Tamaya guild pyrotechnician launching fireworks at the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival somewhere between 1810 - 1843. Photo taken at the Edo Museum

A Tamaya guild pyrotechnician launching fireworks at the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival somewhere between 1810 - 1843.
Photo taken at the Edo Museum

Decorative electric illuminations added to the fireworks display at Ryōgokubashi Bridge (1909)

Decorative electric illuminations added to the fireworks display at Ryōgokubashi Bridge (1909)

Ryōgoku Fireworks Museum entrance

Ryōgoku Fireworks Museum entrance

Overview of the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival history

Overview of the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival history

The fireworks are launched from 2 places. It starts at 7pm, contains 6 inch max., and has a total length of 90 minutes. One is near the Asakusa metro station, the other one is up north. You can buy tickets to get the best view, but to buy tickets for non-Japanese is difficult. Tokyo anno 2016 has a lot of buildings built very close next to each other. If you do not have bought a ticket, you can watch the fireworks behind buildings. So for me, this was the case...

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Lots of people gathering to see the fireworks

Lots of people gathering to see the fireworks