Sumida River Fireworks 2005
I went out to watch the Sumida River Fireworks display this evening. Fantastic! This is considered to be the largest fireworks display in the world and has been held almost every year since the middle of the Edo period (about 300 years ago).
It’s got so large recently that they’ve divided it into two separate displays, about 4km apart to give everyone a chance to see it.
Even three stations away at Ueno, the crowds were thick and the trains so full, we had to queue just to get on.
We got off at an unfeasibly crowded Asakusa station and were literally herded through the streets “like ants,” Andy said. I’m not sure I’ve heard of ants being herded, but I’m sure you get the impression.
We walked through streets where practically every open space and flat surface had bums parked on it. Every low wall and every piece of open pavement was booked. Eventually we approached the river, picking our way through the densely packed groups sitting on their ubiquitous blue vinyl sheets, until we found a yard or two of open space large enough for the five of us to sit down.
We had no idea where the fireworks were going to be released from, but the occasional test release was sufficiently loud enough to reassure us that were were close enough to the action. We hunkered down while Andy and Ishikawa went off to find a few beers and some over priced vinyl sheeting. They were back in a few minutes, beers (and vinyl in hand) and were sitting comfortably within minutes.
Although there were a few trees around, we had a reasonably open view of the sky over the river. Now all we needed were the fireworks.
Presently, there was a deep and resounding series of thumps, familiar to fans of fireworks, or according to one of our group, familiar to those unfortunate enough to have been in a war.
Then there was the matching cacophony of bangs, the sky was lit up in shades of red and green and the crowd errupted in cheers to signify the start of “what must be the largest fireworks display in the world”
as one old lady sitting next to us put it. But, the second flash of couloured sky brought a cheer hardly worthy of the hundreds packed along the river bank. We’d stopped cheering, too. OK, so the sky was glowing, but where were the bloomin’ fireworks?
Another barrage of launches and we saw them, or at least the top edge of the highest bursts. They were hidden behind an elevated railway line!
Panic set in. We’d spent over an hour trying to get to where we were and now we’d have to sit through an hour and a half with barely a glimpse of the action.
But, as luck would have it, twenty minutes later the second display started and with a minimum of fuss we were afforded a wonderful view of "e;”a really large firwoks display"e; as the old man, sitting with the old woman next to us helpfully pointed out.