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Unforgettable Underwater Kamakura Fireworks

The Kamakura Fireworks festival is a stunning display of pyrotechnics! Make sure to check it out on your next visit to Japan.

By 4 min read 9

While fireworks may have originated in China but Japan has taken them to a whole new level. For any of you who haven’t seen a Japanese fireworks show, or hanabi (lit. meaning “flower fire”), you are missing out on an unforgettable experience. Like many aspects of Japan, their hanabi are beautiful, poised, and unique.

Firework shows in Japan range from Hokkaido to Okinawa, with one of the most popular being at the Sumida River in Tokyo. One location that may not show up on your Google search, though, is Kamakura Beach. Kamakura is an ancient town full of Japanese history and culture, and is well known for once being the capital of Japan during the Kamakura Period. Tourists gather here to see the “Big Buddha,” Hachimangu Shrine, as well as Sakura in the spring; but few know of its legendary summertime fireworks.

It’s On The Beach

A fireworks show on the beach? How much more could it possibly feel like a holiday? It encapsulates the whole idea of a vacation in one setting. Once you arrive at the beach, it may take a while to find a “seat.” Many of the locals have pre-arranged blue plastic tarps laid out on the sand by the event coordinators, but everyone else needs to bring their own towel or blanket to spread out.

Many people will bring or buy a bento to eat. I was lucky enough to get to visit with my friend and her Japanese neighbors in their reserved spot, and the evening wouldn’t have been the same without that delicious homemade Japanese dinner.

300,000 People

If you have any question of where to go, just do what gets you many place in Japan and follow the crowd. About 300,000 people attend this event every year, so you’ll be alongside a few hundred thousand of your closest friends while waiting to see one of the best fireworks shows on earth.

Hilarious Responses

With this many excited Japanese in one place, especially at an event as thrilling as this, its hilarious to just sit and listen to their responses. One contrast I’ve loved observing about the Japanese is their ability to always have a correct time and place for their reactions. In most places like on the train or at a store, they react quietly and politely. But at a public event that is expected to wow and amaze them, they react like thrilled young kids who have never seen such a sight in their lifetime. They scream in amazement and clap as if it’s the best show of their lives. If you aren’t already smiling, you will be by the time the cheers begin.

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Photo: Kamakura Visitor’s Guide

Beauty & Awe

This show leave you in awe, but also allow you to appreciate the beauty and artwork that Japan puts into every detail of its presentation; and its hanabi are no exception. All of the fireworks are actually set off from boats on the water, while onlookers sit along the sand. This event is something that no pictures could truly capture; you’ll just have to see it to believe it.

Underwater Fireworks

Even with these beautiful fireworks, the most incredible sight of the entire show wasn’t what was in the air, but on the water. Unbelievably, in the Kamakura hanabi show, some of the fireworks are released underwater! That’s right, a speedboat glides along the horizon with fireworks in hand, drops them at a precise moment, and the magic begins. Exactly half of the explosion happens above the water, and half below. Never in my life had I seen this, and might not ever again.

Extras

After the show, the excitement isn’t quite over yet. The walk back to the station is a little bit crowded, seeing as its almost half a million people flocking to the same small, local station. Thankfully, there are festival booths set up ready to sell all those tasty Japanese foods we love to buy on the go. Once you arrive at the train station, be prepared to wait if you’re headed in the Tokyo direction. Don’t worry; it’s absolutely worth a little wait for all of the memories you’ll keep forever.

The magic is set to happen on July 23rd, 2014 from 19:20 – 20:10. Don’t miss it!

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Access:

From Tokyo station on the JR line to Kamakura station, 57 minutes, 920¥. Walk 20 minutes to Yuigihama, Kamakura beach.

From Tokyo station to Yuigahama station, 65 minutes, 1100¥. Walk 10 minutes to Yuigihama, Kamakura beach.

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