National

Hot air balloons decorate the sky as international festival opens in Saga

Kyodo

Dozens of hot air balloons from all over the world decorated the clear autumn sky on Thursday as the Saga International Balloon Fiesta opened in the Kyushu city.

Pilots fired up balloons with an array of colors and shapes to carry them high above the ground, waving to spectators cheering loudly on the ground as they rose into the sky.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the fiesta and 121 balloons from 16 countries and regions are participating in the event that runs until Monday.

To get closer to the goal or the target, pilots need to have high-level controlling skills and sharp judgment of the wind’s strength and direction. Competitions start daily at both 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Pilots also need to be in contact with crews on the ground to know how the wind has changed due to the limited information they can get in the sky.

Weird and wacky balloons in shapes such as the popular Minion character are scheduled to take part. Night mooring, where balloons are illuminated by the red flames of their burners while music plays, is also planned.

“Seeing beautiful air balloons really lifted my spirits,” Nanoko Kamogashira, a visitor from Fukuoka Prefecture, said with a smile.

The competitions could be canceled or subject to change in the event of strong winds or rain.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5