Summer goes out with a bang


Staff Writer

Summer is the season of fireworks in Japan, and, fittingly, it ends with a bang.

This Saturday night, the city of Tsuchiura in Ibaraki Prefecture will host its annual fireworks competition, and, as always, the event will provide around 60 of the nation’s best fireworks manufacturers with a one last opportunity to show off their skills.

And what skills those are. Last year, the top prize (the Economy, Trade and Industry Minister’s Prize) was won by Ibaraki locals Nomura Hanabi Kogyo, which triumphed in each of the two main competition categories.

The first category is for “10-go shells,” which means it is for single-shell fireworks no larger than 30 cm in diameter. Nomura won that category with what it dubbed a “four-pistil chrysanthemum with rising attachments.” What did it look like? Well, imagine a chrysanthemum with four different-colored pistils (each nested in the next) and with multiple flurries of color (attachments) on its “stem.”

Nomura’s entry in the “starmine” category, for fireworks that include multiple shells, was even more spectacular. “Wedding in the night sky,” as it was romantically titled, incorporated multiple disk-shaped explosions creating what resembled a view of our galaxy in miniature.

Who will take the top prize this year? Will Nomura be able to retain its crown? Head to the banks of the Sakuragawa River, just northwest of Tsuchiura Station this Saturday evening to find out. One thing is for certain: You’ll have a blast.

The Tsuchiura All-Japan Fireworks Competition will be held from 6 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 6. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance as restrictions on seating and viewing areas apply. For more details, visit www.tsuchiura-hanabi.jp .