Last Fireworks of the ‘Summer’

A few weeks ago we were down at the beach near Enoshima, where it was the closing hanabi of the Summer festival season – yes, in October. I think it’s one of the last formal fireworks events in Shonan for the year, and it attracted several thousand people, on the beach and the strip of grass and parks between the beach and the main coastal road.

The whole thing went for just under an hour, a little longer than normal, but not as long as some of the big ones around Japan. The atmosphere was great though; there’s just something relaxing about being down by the beach, sitting around and watching fireworks – and quite a few people were finishing off BBQs.

When the fireworks finished, in an impressive finale, there was a generous round of applause. It was also good that  had quite a few designs I hadn’t seen before, and there were fewer ‘character’ based ones like Doraemon, which I find a little cheap.

I should say, I’m awful at taking pictures of fireworks, mainly because I’m, you know, busy watching them instead of getting the camera right. Instead of a shakey and blurry picture of fireworks then, I thought I’d put in an equally generic photo of sunset around Fuji from Enoshima I took as we were waiting, and a short video as I was testing out my new GoPro.

Fuji from the beach
Fuji from the beach

To give a rough idea, here’s a 60 second video of the finale, though if you look around the net, there are much better examples!

Chigasaki Hanabi 2010

Every summer, places the length and breadth of Japan celebrate summer with festivals and fireworks displays (花火).

Since we moved out of Tokyo, we’ve been going to the Chigasaki South Beach Hanabi, and this year was as fantastic as before. Despite the thousands of people, there was a mix of people on dates, families, parties of friends, but as ever, behaviour was good, the venue (essentially the beach!) was well organised, and we sat back to watch a fantastic (almost) hour of big fireworks.

South Beach (with Fuji)
South Beach (with Fuji)

Hanabi1

Hanabi2

I put a few more pictures up on the Flickr! page. Since I’m no longer a Pro member, I guess those pictures will disappear at some point.

Chigasaki Hanabi ’09

Sometimes you remember why you live where you live. For me, Saturday night was one of those nights. We went as a family to meet up with some friends who live just down the road in Chigasaki (apparently the soul of Southern All Stars) and headed down to South Beach and watch the free hanabi (fireworks).

It was such a fantastic evening. We turned up around 5.30pm and got ourselves a decent spot on the sand. Actually, we benefitted from the insight of a friend of a friend who surfed the beach who warned us how far the tide would come up the beach during the display and made sure we were a few more metres higher up. Needless to say at several times during the evening, people a few places in front of us had to jump up and grab their things as an errant wave lapped high – it really was that close to the water.

The whole thing was very relaxed, almost intimate, as everyone watched an excellent ninety minute display, drank beer and just generally relaxed on towels and mats. The fireworks just seemed so close as you can sort-of see in the picture I shakily took with my camera-phone. I was actually trying to video some of it at the time, so I might try to get something edited up on Vimeo.

chigasaki1

Generally it was just a fantastic evening, good people, some witty banter from the MC whilst we were waiting for smoke to clear: “Ladies and gentlemen, whilst we wait, please look at and enjoy the beautiful full moon here in Chigasaki tonight.” I would definitely say it’s worth the trip out, but bear in mind the whole road system is pretty busy most of the summer there, and cars struggled to get anywhere for quite a time afterwards, especially with all the people walking back to the station.

Anyway – awesome night. Roll on next year!

Tokyo Bay Hanabi

Well, Saturday night saw the annual Tokyo Bay fireworks display, which luckily we were able to see from our balcony, so we got some friends over and watched the amazing 90 minute hanabi display before getting down to the equally fun job of finishing off all the alcohol in the apartment.

Below is an awful picture of the lights, but honestly, they were absolutely spectacular! The local website with some stats is here, and Tokyo Essentially has a summary of the main Tokyo hanabi festivals here.

tokyo_hanabi_05

Hanabi

Well, if there’s one thing Japan does better than any other country I’ve been to, then it would be Hanabi (fireworks). Last night saw an amazing fireworks show over Kachidoki and the bay area, a 90 minute demonstration of state-of-the-art fireworks. It really was amazing. The organisers can go home knowing they did a great job, and I’m sure the thousanbds who watched it had a great time.

We, however, made an error. We decided to go to an organised hanabi party on the 40th floor of Roppongi Hills, paying 3000yen each for the view, and a ‘free’ running buffet and beer. This should have been all we needed.

We knew something was wrong as soon as we arrived. We were too early? Allegedly. The doors didn’t open till 6 and we got there at 5.30. However, given that the only way to know the time was on the internet as the brochure which arrived with the tickets had no time information on it, we weren’t alone – about 20 other people were milling around in the foyer, being told by 8 ‘staff’ to go away and come back later. We didn’t – it was free air conditioning in that foyer.

Anyway, one couple finally got annoyed with watching the staff just chatting, and sending e-mail on their keitai and asked to be let in. Finally we were, and in a cramped lift, we were taken to the 40th floor to a kind of bare room with a few tables. So everyone is looking for the best place to watch the hanabi, until one of the staff says this is the waiting area, and the venue is on the other side of the building…so why were we waiting in the foyer? Anyhow, finally we got in the room proper, which looked like a cross between a very small matsuri (festival) and a hospital. Seats had been laid out for those who could get them, but as there were only about 250, and the organisers said nearly 900 people would come, I expected a squeeze.

As it turned out, this was not the case. I think 300 people at most were there, and the buffet food wasn’t near fresh, but at least the beer was cold. As I mentioned the hanabi looked great – at least it did when the press photographer got out of the way of everyone (I had to complain to the manager in the end). Sadly though the atmosphere was zero, aside from a small child shouting ‘finish now finish now’ after about an hour of looking out the window, which felt more like watching a TV.

Final analysis: we had an OK time due entirely to the hanabi and the drinks, but we both agreed we’d never do another hanabi party inside like that – certainly it was cool, but there was no feeling to it. As for the organisers – Academy Hills – I’d never go to one of their functions again, it was poorly set up, and before the hanabi started, almost everyone was complaining about something.

After a bit of a let down, you need to relax and regroup, so I thought we’d try a small bar I’d seen on my way to the gym, but had never got round to checking out. It’s on the 246 near Sangenjaya – The Second Flow (Cafe and Diner) – 03 5430 2303. It’s got a really relaxing feel to the place, a projector screen of the olympic coverage and a great selection of drinks and food by decent staff. Personally, I recommend the banana milk. The place was also doing a cross promotion with a small t-shirt design company EDiT, which looked very cool too, take a look.