Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display are the features of a special event on 16 August on the Matsubara Coast in Matsushima-cho, Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.
These festivities began in 1950 (Showa 25) during the Bon Festival season of the lunar calendar, and were held to appease the spirits of those who had died in the war.
Various fireworks, such as water fireworks and 'star-mines' are set off against the scenic backdrop of Kehi-no-Matsubara. The Great Fireworks Display is the largest-class of fireworks display held along the Sea of Japan coast. 12,000 fireworks are set off in a dynamic show.
At the same time as the fireworks, 6,000 red, blue, and yellow lanterns are set afloat from the Matsubara Coast, while sutras are chanted by monks.
In recent years, lasers and sound systems have been added as massive settings and configurations to the festival. The pyrotechnics begin with bottle rockets and finish with special character fireworks and other elaborate fireworks.
Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display create a harmony between water, light and sound. It is a solemn, even mystic, event.
The Otaru Ushio Festival was inititated in 1967 (Showa 42) in the hope of preserving the history, culture and further development of Otaru, Hokkaido.
The festival is held aroud Otaru Bay for three days on the last weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun) of July. More than a million people from Hokkaido and from outside visit the festival at this time. Ushio chochin lanterns featuring wave patterns are displayed throughout Otaru and the city fills with excitement as the festival begins.
On the second day of the festival, 5,000 dancers from Hokkaido and outside Hokkaido participate in the Ushio-nerikomi parade. The dancers move in time with the rhythm of the Ushio-Ondo, and the parade stirs up more festival excitement.
Meanwhile, various events are held elsewhere in the city, such as the local Ushio taiko drums perfomance. The drums create a rich and enjoyable rhythm. The final day of the festival features a display of 2,500 fireworks set off into the beautiful night sky of the Otaru Bay, marking a spectacular culmination to the festival.
This festival shows a local appreciation of the sea and Otaru's hope for the city's continued development. The afterglow of festival excitement does not disappear for a long time
The Niwatsuki Kannon lantern-floating event takes place every year on 18 August on the Sakekawa River, which flows in front of Niwatsuki Kannon in Sakekawa-mura, Yamagata Prefecture. Niwatsuki Kannon is a holy ground famous as the final stop on the Saijo 33 Kannon pilgrimage, and many visitors come to see this shrine to the Kannon bodhisattva.
Niwatsuki Kannon lantern-floating is an old Obon event that has been held every year since the Edo period, and many people from inside and outside the prefecture come to participate. It is the largest lantern-floating Buddhist ceremony in eastern Japan.
At sunset, nearly 100 lanterns are lit, while dedication songs and prayers begin. The lanterns are then released into the river one by one, to the accompaniment of songs, while people make prayers commemorating their ancestors. Watching the many dimly-lit lanterns float gently off into the dark distance is a magical sight.
Rekishi-no-komichi is an historic street scene that can be seen in the Mameda area of Hita in Oita Prefecture. During the Edo period, Hita prospered for 250 years under the direct control of the Edo Bakufu government.
Many historic buildings and remnants of the Tenryo period still exist in Hita, mostly in Mameda. This area has been declared an historic townscape in order to preserve its old buildings and place in history.
During the 'Sennen-akari' event, part of the Tenryohita Matsuri, bamboo lanterns cast a soft glow over Rekishi-no-komichi along Ogawa, creating a visionary space. A Tenryo museum is also located in the area, and lets people know of the wealth that once prevailed in Hita.
Today, a stroll through the chic area of Rekishi-no-komichi in Mameda will give the visitor a sense of the atmosphere and mood of the Edo period.
The Fukuno-yotaka Festival takes place annually on May 1st and 2nd and has a history of 350 years. The event derives from a story that people were building a new village in the Fukuno area. They were transferring their god from Ise Shrine, but when they reached the Kurikara valley, dusk fell and people from a newly-established local village lit their way with lanterns.
In the festival today, young men from Yokomachi, Shinmachi, Uemachi, Nanatsuya, Okuramachi, Uramachi and Tatsumimachi wear the same happi coats and hold up 7-meter-high lanterns. There are 20 lanterns in total: seven large and 13 small ones. To the beat of drums, the young men hold the bright-red lanterns and call out 'Yoiyasa Yoiyasa' to the spring night-sky. Their gallant shouts create a magnificent atmosphere. When two parties meet each other in a narrow alley, they are permitted to jump, trample and destroy each others' floats and ornaments. This event is the largest spectacle of the festival.
Every year on June 10th and 11th, a traditional event called Yodakaandon takes place in Tsuzawa, Oyabe-Shi, Toyama Prefecture. It is an epic and elegant festival that dates back 350 years to the early Edo period.
As part of the rites for the establishment of the town of Fukuno (today's Nanto-shi), the townspeople went to receive blessings from the spirits at the Ise Shrine. The journey to the shrine took ten days, so the townspeople carried 'andon' lanterns to light their way at night.
Today, andon have become part of the festival 'yodaka' procession, which also includes a float, decorations and ornaments. Some yodaka can be very majestic, measuring about 5.5 meters high and 12 meters long.
On the day of the festival, as twilight approaches, the andon light up the dark streets, signaling the children and young people, who are wearing 'happi' festival clothing, to come and pull the large andon while energetically shouting a rallying cry.
The climax or highlight of the festival, however, is the Kenka Yodakaandon Hikimawashi, which literally means 'Yodakaandon brawl'. Two Yodakaandon position themselves face to face, and then collide. Each group has to destroy the other's float and decorations. Everyone who is at that site becomes intoxicated with fear and excitement, drawing the people into a world where dismay and chaos coexist.