Tokyo: Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival, Tokyo

Yesterday we went to see the fireworks at the annual Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai (Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival). The fireworks festival is held on the last Saturday in July, and the center of the action is the area around Sumida river and Asakusa Station. It is the biggest festival in Tokyo, attracting around a million spectators each year.  Already in the metro, we got an impression of the enormous amount of people heading for the event. It was packed! I had arranged to meet with my Japanese friend Mari at the Ginza station platform, but the platform was so crowded, it took a while to find each other.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a metro train so crowded as the one to Asakusa yesterday, and I was happy that I showered, before I left the hotel. As a matter of fact, it seemed (or smelled) like most people had taken a shower before they left home, so even though it was crowded, it was surprisingly bearable.

People were wearing yukatas, which is traditional, kimono-like dresses made from cotton. You wear the yukata at informal celebrations such as festivals and holidays during the summer. I bought one many years ago, but I’ve never worn it, as it’s quite difficult to dress yourself in it, and I haven’t had any skilled assistance at hand for helping me out. Though, I regretted that I didn’t bring it to Tokyo this time. It would have been perfect to wear last night.

You could buy drinks and snacks from food stalls lining the streets. I got a taste for the salty cucumbers on a stick and yakitori (skewers with chicken). Mari introduced me to a delicious Japanese snack, takoyaki, which are balls made from a flour-based batter stuffed with octopus. You eat takoyaki with mayonnaise and a special, brown takoyaki sauce.

The fireworks were launched from two different places, and you had the best view from the two bridges close to Asakusa station. Though on the bridges, you had to keep on walking. Standing still to take a photo wasn’t allowed. I guess it was because they wanted as many people as possible to enjoy the nice view provided from the bridges.

The fireworks are actually a battle between different fireworks teams trying to surpass each other, and it went on for almost two hours. Can you imagine? Two hours of the most beautiful fireworks cracking the sky from two places. Such a beautiful sight!

My guide to fun things to do in Tokyo

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