Friday, August 14, 2009

Unforgettable Fireworks Experience

It is August already and as usual, there are fireworks festivals held at almost every region in Japan. So far, I only get to watch the fireworks festivals at two places, Miyajima-On-The-Sea-Fireworks and Nagaoka Fireworks, which are dubbed among the best and biggest in Japan. How true is that, I dunno-lah because you know, these Japanese are quite crazy about these kind of stuff one. They have the top three most scenic spots in Japan, top three most beautiful garden and even top three girls with the biggest pair of boobs.
Err, actually right, the last one I simply made it out only haha.
I made an entry about how crazy the people here about Nagaoka Fireworks Festival last year. If you find that is crazy, wait till you finish reading this entry. I couldn't believe myself until I experienced the whole thing myself, starting from the wait to reserve our places along the river bank until the walk among the hundreds of thousands of people at the end of the fireworks festival.
The fireworks festival is held on August 2nd and 3rd annually, along the river bank of Shinano River, the longest river which starts at Nagano prefecture and the most part of the river flows through Niigata prefecture and finally ends at the Sea of Japan. On average, there would be almost half a million of people from all over the country who make the trip down to Nagaoka to watch the fireworks festivals. Last year alone, it was estimated that 470,000 people were there to watch the fireworks.
The traffic usually gets turns so badly, that it gets to almost a standstill by five in the evening.
Even the temporary toilet are crowded. But I wonder, do ladies go to the toilet more often that guys? Perhaps they have more things to release than we guys lol.
This year, I went to the fireworks location much earlier than two previous years to join my seniors who have been there since morning. The purpose is very simple - to queue-up before the area is opened for everyone to reserve their spot. There are two types of area, one where you have to pay for it, and the free-zone where you have to go earlier if you are planning to get a good spot.
Good thing that it was a Sunday that I was able to make the trip there. It was only ten in the morning and I have noticed people crowding the place, with the security guards keeping everything under control.
If the whole crowd is equivalent to a huge iceberg, this is just the tip of it.
I walked across the bridge to the opposite side of the river and the crowd was still the same. They come not in hundreds, but thousands. Lucky thing that it wasn't a hot day; it was cloudy most of the time as the weather forecast predicted that it would rain later that evening. Nevertheless, it didn't spoil the spirit of the people there at all. They still come with their umbrellas, benches, sheets and enough supplies of liquid to keep them refreshed all the time.
And all of them looked very much in the mood, chatting with each other to kill their time that made the waiting looked as if it's a festival.
Turn to the left and you see a huge colourful pasar malam umbrella, and people of course.

Turn to the right and you see more people. Wonder where these human beings appear from haha.
Oh hi, this is one of the human beings who joined the craziness lol.
If you think that Japanese are all very well-mannered and follow the rules all the time, then think again. What I saw on that day changed my perception on Japanese forever. Let me reveal something unknown to most of us here. Japanese are just like us, Malaysians. When the security guards signaled that it was time to open the gates, everyone stood up and some began to get into position to jump over the fences into the area, instead of walking into the area through the gates.
My seniors already warned us that it was the same thing last year, and since I never seen it before, I didn't believe it until I saw it myself. When they allow people to walk into the area, you know what happened to the other section of the queue. Yes, those Japanese suddenly turned into rabbits and kangaroos, hopping into the area over the fences.
People all set to make their jumps. Worst were the old uncles as they were the first to do the jumping =.=
Take a look at this video to see for yourself.
Seeing everyone started to jump over the fence, we did the same thing too; otherwise we would not be able to get a spot if we were to walk in through the gate. One thing I don't understand until today is that I still got the time to take video shot in the middle of the havoc. In just less than sixty seconds, the whole area was full already with blue sheets.
The lighting speed of the people who took up the spaces was simply amazing. It happened so fast that it was almost like how fast tsunami waves sweep the whole town away.

By the time it was late evening, people began to fill the river banks and it was time for party to begin.
This is how the river bank looked in the morning.
By six in the evening, the whole place is already full.
These are human beings crazy for fireworks, not ants haha.
All waiting for these fireworks to be launched up the sky later that evening.
However, everything didn't go as well as we'd hoped for. Remember just now I mentioned that it was predicted that it was gonna rain later that evening. Too bad that Japanese weather forecast is accurate almost all the time and yes, it rained. Not just drizzling, but it rained so heavily that I became really wet (pun unintended).
But I'm serious, I was wet the whole body, because I didn't bring my umbrella haha.
I learned a hard lesson; always check the weather forecast when you're in Japan.
You might think that for all the hard effort queuing-up under the scorching sun came to nothing as everyone would run for shelter. But again, craziness for the fireworks got over the crowd as they just remained there to make sure their spot aren't taken away. Those who came with umbrellas keep themselves dry with their umbrellas but for the rest of the unlucky ones, they had to find other alternatives.
Nevertheless, the ideas they came out with were just brilliant.
Making the blue sheet as a shelter is kinda normal.

In fact, some made it looked like a tent haha.
As for my two juniors, they hibernate inside the blue sheet until the rain stopped haha.
The rain didn't damp the spirit of the crowd at all because by six, the rain stopped and everyone was anticipating the start of the fireworks. Takoyaki, yakisoba, eda beans, onigiri, beer are all the essential food while they enjoy the fireworks display.
I won't be posting up any fireworks photos in this entry, as I will be doing it in another entry.
Anyway, here is just a sneak preview of what's in store.
This might be the only decent picture of fireworks, with me in it.
When the fireworks festival ended, the walk from the venue to the train station was unbelievable as well. You will never see such a big number of people crowding the main roads in Nagaoka in other time of the year. In fact, the queue for the train stretched so long until people had to line-up outside the building.
I was lucky because I didn't have to take the train to go back.
Look at the crowd.
I just had to ride my bike all the way back to my dormitory haha.


naqiubex said...

Fun to know the atmosphere over there..

calvin said...

@ naqiubex:
yes, it could be something new to people from outside japan =)

Ken said...

Wow... 'People mountain, people sea'. So many people~

calvin said...

@ ken:
is that a translation from some other language? xD