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Fireworks contest reaches peak

by Matthew Holmes

Staff Writer

In Nagasaki, the fireworks season is not quite over. This Saturday night, autumn will be kept at bay a little longer with the finale to a series of spectacular displays that constituted a summer-long contest.

From heats in April when international teams from Germany, China, Macau and The United States earned the right to compete proper, through the summer, and now into September, experts have been showing their flare for entertainment in the World Pyrotechnician Competition. Saturday’s show marks the event’s pinnacle, a showdown between Japan, and Australia’s Foti International.

Local champions Wakino Art Factory will travel a short distance from their workshops in Fukuoka, and when representing Japan they will not only hope to blast the competition, but also to show off the extraordinary technical and artistic feats the industry is achieving. They will battle for the phone-votes of viewers in the stands, and hope to bring the trophy back home.

After taking the top prize last year, Illinois-based Melrose Pyrotechnics called their work “a pyro-musical display … choreographed perfectly to a soundtrack of popular Broadway tunes.” With computer controlled firing systems time coded in sync with the soundtrack, it’s highly technical stuff; and with various launch points at “nautical, aerial and on-land” spots, this competition allowed them to push spatial boundaries.

The fireworks finale will take place at Huis Ten Bosch, a resort that replicates a 17th century Netherlands town. It is better known for its seasonal floral displays and windmills; Japanese-Dutch trade heritage is celebrated here with traditional buildings and over 300,000 flowers adorning the streets and canal paths. But during these late summer nights, you’d better look up.

World Fireworks Competition Huis Ten Bosch takes place at Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, on Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. Admission is ¥2,000, or ¥3,000 with access to a special seated area. For more information, call (0570) 064-110 or visit english.huistenbosch.co.jp.