Is Japan "the best" at fireworks?

George Plimpton thinks so. In 1984, this unofficial fireworks commissioner of New York declared that "Japan is by far the most enlightened and enterprising nation when it comes to fireworks" in a book titled "Fireworks: A History and Celebration."

More than three decades later, Japan may still hold the crown. From small family gatherings to gargantuan waterside festivals that draw millions, hanabi (fireworks) are as much a part of summer as humidity and watermelon.