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Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

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  • Japanese: 隅田川花火大会 (Sumidagawa hanabi taikai)

The Sumidagawa Fireworks Competition is a major fireworks event held every summer in Tokyo, attracting roughly one million spectators each year. The event dates back to the Edo period, when the Ryôgoku kawabiraki fireworks competition was begun as part of rituals mourning the many dead from disease and famine, while concurrently celebrating life.

Rival pyrotechnics groups formed, and tried to outdo one another's displays, thus ramping up the entertainment factor of the whole production. For a time, the Tamaya and Kagiya groups led the pack, and their names could be heard chanted or called out by the crowds.

During the Edo period, the event would usually be held near the Ryôgoku bridge, and spectators would watch not only from shore and from on the bridge, but also from aboard riverboats. Scenes of the fireworks and the spectators can be seen in numerous works by ukiyo-e print artists and others. The festival was originally always held on the 28th day of the 5th month, on the lunar calendar, but is today typically held in late July or early August.

References

  • "Ryôgoku bashi kawabiraki no zu" 両国橋川開きの図. National Diet Library. JapanKnowledge Multimedia Library. NetAdvance, 2012. Online resource.

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