Sunday, 2 August 2009

Hanabi at the Toyohira River

For the last two years I've been working when Sapporo's fireworks festivals took place. They're always on Friday nights in the summer, so I couldn't attend. I could however watch, even from where I worked in the Northern reaches of the city, as a zillion people, many wearing yukatas, were sucked inexorably to the area.

This year, I finished work just at the right time to go see them light up the sky:

While everyone told me how crowded it was before, I was still taken aback. Thousands of people packed the area around the river, trying to find a comfortable vantage point. We ended up smack behind a bridge coz we couldn't bother to look very hard for somewhere to sit, but we could see all the good, big ones perfectly from there.

I would imagine that this was one of the busiest nights for almost every restaurant and bar in the city, as it was a balmy evening and after the fifty minute show was over people just streamed into the streets: looking for food, shelter and education. Or possibly just food and liquor, I didn't stop to ask - we were too busy trying to get something to eat. We had to push our bikes like six blocks coz the streets were too packed to cycle.

The show was good, but not the biggest or the best fireworks show in the world I'm sure. I saw some shapes - they had different kinds of fruit and what I guess was a cat, or a pig. Or a cat and a pig. Actually the logistics of launching a firework that can explode in a certain shape in the sky elude me. How can you even do that - get everything to spin off in the right direction? Science beyond the means of mere mortal men, that's how.

Are Japanese people famous for loving fireworks? Do they have a special bond with fireworks? I'm not sure. Japanese fireworks shows tend to be bigger and louder than the ones I saw in England, but maybe I just saw half-arsed ones in England. Also the volume and size doesn't necessarily make them better. It's nice to feel your chest kicked by the shockwaves from some massive rocket every now and then, but variation is a virtue too.

Anyway the Toyohira Fireworks were a lot of fun. And being able to go made me very happy.

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