With Summer around the corner I feel it is time to go one of the most exciting events in Japan, 花火(hanabi, firework) season. During summer in Japan there are many firework displays all over Japan and they are both beautiful and entertaining no matter where you see them. The one that has come to my mind today happens to be the Sumida festival. This festival is one of the biggest in Tokyo with around 20,000 displays sent to the sky on one gorgeous summer night. Located next to the Sumida river in Asakusa this event is said to be the second biggest display in Tokyo with over 2million in attendance year after year.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Sumida festival last year by a friend and to this day that night is engraved into my memory. We arrived in Asakusa station that day at around three pm and I will warn you is a little late. Even though the fireworks do not start until 7pm for many in Japan hanabi is treated like Hanami (flower viewing) in which people arrive early in the morning to pick a place to sit. For many the idea behind enjoying the festival is to grab a good spot early and then spend the day eating, drinking, and just having fun with friends and family before the actual displays begin. Due to this slightly overlooked fact and the alleged 2million people in attendance for the festival we consider ourselves lucky to have found a spot in with we were able to see most of the fireworks once they began.although I will not be going into explaining the actual fireworks (due my lack of worthy words to do them justice), I will say that the crowds and noise are well worth dealing with for this experience. After the fireworks have ended though is when the real fun can begin.
As mentioned over 2million people are said to have been in attendance, which becomes apparent once the festivities have ended. The only thing that must be said about the ending of festivities is that returning to the train stations can and will be a real pain. The group that I was with that day waited out some of the crowd before moving from our spot. However after about 30mins we realized that the crowd would not be thinning out for a while so we packed up and attempted to leave. The problem we ran into was that once we were captured by the crowd of people we had no choice but to go with the flow of traffic and as a result ended up lost. Due to this and the pile of people waiting for trains that overflowed the stations we decided to get late dinner at coco’s curry before eventually waiting out a train and heading home.
The Sumida festival takes place in late July or early August and is definitely one of the many must sees in Tokyo. I hope this quick outline of the Sumida festival has at least scratched an interest and made you think about attending. Sadly I can not put into words just how amazing this festival is for I feel it is something that must be experienced in person. So if you do go this year I will hopefully see you there, for I plan to enjoy this event once more while I have the chance.