Archive for March 2009

Fireworks on the Sumida River

Damien Liu-Brennan and Tadao Yoshida

Abstract: Fireworks (hanabi) were originally displayed on the Sumida River in 1733 as a memorial service for the victims of starvation due to crop failures and plague, and an epidemic of cholera. The fireworks display originated as the “Ryōgoku Kawabiraki Hanabi” (Ryōgoku River-Opening Fireworks) with only 20 fireworks displayed. Although the display has experienced several interruptions historically, it has evolved into what is known today as the “Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai” (Sumida River Fireworks Display). Currently, a total of about twenty thousand hanabi shells are displayed from two separate firing locations on the river, and in conjunction with this, a fireworks competition is held at one of the locations. This paper describes the history, evolution, and current status of the display.

Keywords: Sumida River, fireworks history, Japanese fireworks, hanabi, Kagiya, Tamaya, Ryōgoku


Ref: JPyro, Issue 28, 2009, pp3-15

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