Making Some Pre-Fireworks Decisions
To make this the best possible fireworks experience, do a little advance planning!
Out of all the fireworks festivals that are held every year in Japan, first consider which one you're going to attend. Here are some things to think about, to help you make that decision:
1. What kind of environment do you want?
Some fireworks festivals are by the river, and some are by the sea. These different kinds of locations make for different atmospheres, and just think about how different it is to sit in the sand on a beach or in the grass of a riverbank.
(Take a look through our events calendar
to see some of the options that might be open to you, especially in the Tokyo area.)
2. What does the weather forecast look like?
If you have decided on a particular fireworks event you want to see, check the weather in advance. A lot of the fireworks displays get postponed or even canceled if the weather conditions aren't great. So be sure to see what conditions look like ahead of time. (Early summer is rainy season in Japan, making this period especially prone to these issues, so watch out!)
3. What's happening in the surrounding area?
(There might be other things you want to see!)
Read up or ask around about the area you're going to see fireworks in. Are there any special events going on aside from the fireworks display? Any restaurants nearby? Japan is full of local specialty foods, and if you're going out of your way anyway, you should see what's available.
Nothing worse than getting caught in the rain or not knowing what to do for the rest of the day. Plan a little in advance, and see if there are any interesting shops, food, or other attractions nearby!
4. What are you going to wear?
If you are in an area where there are yukata rentals available, you might want to consider wearing a yukata to the event! It's not uncommon for locals to dress up, and it makes the whole evening an extra special experience. Plus, if you get a nice cool, cotton yukata, you'll be very comfortable in the warm summer air. (See what it's like to rent a yukata
Fireworks Festival Essential Items
Things To Bring With You
Coins and Small Bills: Fireworks festivals get crowded, and with so many people around, there's the danger of credit cards and large bills getting stolen, or more likely lost (dropped under trampling feet, never to be seen again). You aren't likely to need large sums of money anyway, so just taking a little change purse in your pocket is a better plan. (No worries if you're wearing a yukata, tuck your money into your obi belt, or stash it inside a sleeve!)
A Round-Trip Ticket, or IC Transit Card: Once the fireworks finish up, all of the people at the festival will start heading home at once, and this flood of people often causes traffic jams inside the train station. If at all possible, it's best to avoid lining up to buy your return ticket at that point. Instead, glide right through the ticket gates and avoid the worst of the crowds.
Venue Map: The official websites of lots of fireworks festivals will include a basic map of the grounds, which is especially convenient when you're looking for a bathroom, or where exactly you can sit. You can definitely check these out on your phone, but batteries run out quick when you're traveling! Save that precious power, and print out a copy beforehand (especially if you're going with kids).
A Full Battery: Speaking of running out of juice... we probably don't have to tell you that it's a good idea to make sure your phone has a fully-charged battery before you head out for the night. You don't want the camera to die right when you're about to take a spectacular shot of your friends in front of the fireworks! Plus, having a device that can entertain you, contact your companions, show you how to get home, and, well, be a flashlight is the peak of convenience. Bring a portable charger if you need one!
If you don't trust your phone's battery, this is handy when you're looking for where to sit on a dark riverbank. (And it doubles as extra lighting when taking a group photo!)
Especially if you arrive in the early evening, all the people crowded in one area on a summer night makes for a lot of heat. Keep yourself cool with a hand-held electric fan, or go the traditional route and use an uchiwa fan
Part of the fun of a fireworks festival is grabbing some food and snacks (try Japanese fried chicken, karaage!), and sitting on the ground to eat them while you watch the fireworks display. Between the karaage grease and the dusty or sandy ground, you'll probably want to wipe off your hands at some point.
Please do not leave any trash behind! We don't want to leave the festival venue littered with garbage when we leave, and the easiest way to avoid that is to simply stick any trash in a bag that you can throw into the proper receptacle on your way out.
Japan's mosquitos are as bad as anywhere. You'll probably be sitting on the ground near water, don't let yourself get eaten alive!
An Umbrella or Rain Jacket:
Check ahead of time; does it look like there'll be a light drizzle that night? Heavy storms will cancel the event, but even light rain falling on your head all night can be unpleasant.
Plus, there will probably be some good food for sale, but bring some extra snacks and drinks if you want! (Drinks both of both the alcoholic and non-acoholic variety are usually a little overpriced at the venue.)
For Our Experienced Festival Attendees: How to Get the Best Smartphone Fireworks Pictures
How To Impress Your Friends with Quality Fireworks Snapshots
Unless you're a pro photographer, you're probably not just attending this fireworks festival to take pictures. The point is to have a good time, and relax with friends or family. But... it's always nice to have a photo or two to remember the night by! So here are some tips on how to take that one perfect snapshot.
#1: Keep the camera close to your body!
If you're using a smartphone camera, nighttime photography is probably not its strong suit. In order to take in enough light, the shutter speed will slow way down, making it very easy to blur the photo. So you have to work to keep things steady! If there are any stable objects nearby, like walls, use them to secure your hands in place. Otherwise, bend your elbows and hold the phone close to you. It's more stable than keeping your arms stretched all the way out.
- Good: Keep your elbows tucked in, supporting your arms with your torso for stable shooting.
- Bad: Stretched all the way in front of you, not only will your arms waver and shake, but you'll also be blocking other people's view!
#2: Have your screen ready to go.
If your normal phone settings make the screen lock immediately, and require a password every time, you're going to spend a lot of time fumbling with your phone whenever you want to take a picture. Check your settings beforehand to make your life easier.
#3: Check auto exposure and AF lock settings.
If these features start automatically messing with your pictures while you take them, it's going to drive you crazy. You don't want the rest of the night sky to look bright, and you're not taking a picture of the back of the head in front of you!
#4: Turn off flash.
All flash will do is mess up your pictures. Unless you're trying to take photos of the crowd around you, you should probably just turn it off.
#5: Learn about which fireworks show up best in pictures.
Japanese photographers recommend you try for a picture of "crown chrysanthemum" fireworks, since they stay in the sky for a relatively long time. Aside from that variety, fireworks that keep going off for a longer period are also easier to shoot.
Plus, think about your viewing point, and even which direction the wind is blowing! You'll be all ready to take the perfect shot.