Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Craziness For Nagaoka Fireworks Festival

The one event I always look forward to come August each year is the Nagaoka Fireworks Festival, dubbed as one of the biggest, if not the biggest in Japan. It is held two continuous nights, on August 2nd and 3rd annually which attract hundreds of thousands of people as far as Tokyo just to watch the fireworks festival. Despite being labeled as a small kampung, living in Nagaoka means I do not have to travel far to watch it as it is held just by the river banks of Shinano River, about forty minutes of bicycle ride. The main highlights of the fireworks each year will be the finale, known as the Phoenix. It was first started after the huge earthquake that hit the Chuetsu region and as a mean to commemerate the recovery that the city has gone though since that faithful day of October 23rd, 2004. There are six spots in one straight line that spreads for about 1.7 kilometres across Shinano river, in which huge fireworks are launched simultaneously. But you will ever want to know how much the three-minute-long display cost.
A staggering 20 million yen (RM 666,666).
However, it is different from other fireworks launched earlier on the nights where they are usually sponsored by huge companies. Instead, the fund for Phoenix is raised through donations from the public, as well as money collected through activities meant to be used to fund the Phoenix fireworks display.
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A group of volunteers collecting donations for Phoenix fund in front of Nagaoka train station a few weeks earlier.
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Before the fireworks display started later that evening, there were side events in the afternoon, which are mainly targeted for small kids.
Although the fireworks display will only start at quarter past seven, the people will usually begin to head to the venue to lay their mats. They will head to somewhere before returning to the spot later that evening. One good thing about Japan is that whenever someone places their mats on a spot, other people will never tear them away or steal people's mat as they like. I am not very sure whether the same thing applies to we Malaysians. As for people who are more better-off, they will prefer the area which was pre-booked earlier, which I suppose they do not come cheap.
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This is the scene taken from the bridge. Even though was only two in the afternoon, they place is almost fully taken already.
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Some workers setting up the fireworks on the bridge. They name it the Niagara Falls, which I will post it up in another entry.
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Huge lorries loaded with tons of fireworks driving into the launch area and were getting everything set-up. Imagine what will happen if someone just simply throw a cigarette bud there. Gong Xi Fa Chai would be the answer!
I went to a nearby supermarket to grab some stuff to fill my hungry stomach. It gave me a huge shock when I stepped my foot in the supermarket when I saw the huge crowd inside. The atmosphere was as if an emergency state was going to be declared and everybody was rushing and fighting to stock up their food supply. When I took a look at the long queue, it was even worse. The queue stretched for more than twenty meters in all fifteen cashiers and it took me more than half an hour before my turn arrived.
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There was not any sale on, but we still got such crowd.
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And the condition inside the supermarket was stuffy and hot and it was just not comfortable at all.
I quickly made my payment and left the place and return to the place I had placed my mat on earlier. It just hit me somewhere that I felt like having some Japanese food that evening. It is not that I do not love Japanese food, but I just don't eat outside that frequent. So, once in a while, I do long for Japanese food and here is what I got that evening.
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A set consisted of eda mame, ika and tori karaage, and fried potato wedges.
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Hmmm, no comment for this one.

Before the fireworks display started, I saw a group of sumo wrestler walking just in front of where I was sitting and they were heading towards the lower part of the slopes to watch the fireworks. Obviously, that area is only reserved for people from the higher class who could afford to reserve places for such spot.
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Sumo wrestlers only wear
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Here is a closer look at them.
I will do another entry for the fireworks display that night, which should come in a post or two after this one. But till then, this was how the atmosphere at the end of the fireworks display. This is just one part of the people who went to watched it, as another half was at the opposite side of the river and they couldn't get to cross over the bridge which was closed until ten.
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It is nightmare for the traffic police to control the non-stop flowing sea of people that night.
This is why I am proud to say Nagaoka has the best fireworks display in Japan.


K3ViN said...

this post, i tot u have post it b4 wor......

calvin said...

@ k3vin:
technical errors xD

Endoru said...

Amazing, would like to go there and see the fireworks one day.

calvin said...

@ endoru:
you are most welcome to see the fireworks here one day =)