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.