From July to September, fireworks light up the sky over at least part of Japan nightly. From waterfalls of color to cheerful smiley faces, these fireworks, called hanabi (花火) in Japanese, come in a dazzling number of varieties. After watching an hour long display with dozens of different types of fireworks, you may start to see the similarities between certain kinds of fireworks.
As explained on the HanabiNavi website, Japanese fireworks can generally be divided into four basic categories: warimono, pokamono, hanwarimono, and katamono.
Warimono are the quintessential Japanese firework, exploding outward in a spherical shape. Over two dozen named warimono subcategories exist, but, as explained by Yakabune.com, the most representative of the warimono firework are the chrysanthemum (菊, kiku) type, which is a circular firework with “stars” streaming out of the middle, and the peony (牡丹, botan) type, which is also circular but has “stars” with less of a streaming tail.
The pokamono fireworks are created when the shell breaks into two in the air, releasing the contents. Pokamono fireworks often give off sound, and its “stars” may go in random directions or flow down the sky. Two well-known types of pokamono fireworks are the willow (柳, yanagi) type, which has “stars” that stream down the sky, and the bee (蜂, hachi) type, in which the “stars” spin around like bees around a nest.
The kanji “han” in “hanwarimono” means “half”, indicating that these fireworks are half warimono and half pokamono. Hanwarimono fireworks don’t become as large as warimono fireworks but can still put on colorful and visually stunning displays. The senrin (千輪) subcategory is the most recognized of the hanwarimono fireworks. The Omogori Firework Festival website states that senrin fireworks contain small shells inside the larger shell, creating a spectacular show of numerous smaller fireworks all going off at once.
Katamono fireworks are probably the most novel of the major four categories of fireworks. When katamono fireworks go off, they create a “drawing” in the sky. Some common shapes include smiley faces, hearts, and spades. More complex shapes, such as cats, chicks, and even squid, have become possible.
With the large variety of beautiful fireworks, it may be difficult to choose, but what is your favorite type of Japanese firework?