Category Archives: fireworks

Ushiku: Great Buddha and Fireworks

Ushiku Great Buddha
Talking about Japanese towns with great Buddha statues, one would likely mention Nara or Kamakura. But the Ushiku Daibutsu dwarves them all: At a height of 110 meter it is one of the tallest statues in the world. Every year on August 15, there is a light-up and fireworks festival and this year I decided to skip one traditional fireworks festival in favor of the Buddha plus fireworks combination.

Arriving at the station, there was nothing indicating that there is a festival in Ushiku. The Buddha is also not visible from the train station or anywhere in Ushiku. Bus service was scarce, so I took a taxi to the Great Buddha (about 3300 Yen). It is quite a distance from the station to the Buddha.

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Ushiku Daibutsu has probably more parking spots than some shopping malls and they expect their visitors to stay a while. You’ll pass various shops on the way to the Buddha. Usually there is an entrance free but on the festival day there was none from 5pm. However, I couldn’t enter the statue which contains a museum and an observation floor.

The statue was built in 1993 and depicts the Amitabha Buddha, it was built to commemorate the birth of the founder of the “True Pure Land School” of Buddhism. Read the rest of this entry

Seoul International Fireworks Festival 2010

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I’ve just been in Seoul for a few days and there is already a huge event: the International Fireworks Festival. Korean and international fireworks experts light up the night sky above the Han River near Yeouinaru Station.

Getting out of the station proved to be the first challenge since the usual gates were not switched off. If you want to get there, you’ll definitely have to come at least one hour before. There are other subway stops such as Daebang Station on line 1 and Yeouido Station on line 4 & 9, but I didn’t have a map with me.

What’s also shocking for someone who’s been used to festivals in Japan, is the lack of organization. There was almost no police out there to direct the crowds and people started climbing on walls and poles to get a better view. It’s amazing that no one got hurt.

The fireworks was great of course, I liked some of the blurred shots best, like this one:

International Fireworks Festival Read the rest of this entry

Kasukabe Community Matsuri – Taiko, Dance & Fireworks

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Not having enough of fireworks this year, I searched for other festivals in the Kanto region. The Japan Tourist Organization, whose festival list is used by the Japan Times, is of course selective but there are other Japanese sites online which list almost all the fireworks, cherry blossom and other seasonal festivals for any given region.

That’s how I’ve found the matsuri (festival) in Kasukabe (春日部) which was listed as one of the last fireworks festivals in 2010. I checked the train connections and found out that I could combine the festival with a visit to Soka and the city of Kasukabe. Both cities are in Saitama prefecture and the websites offer a guide to the sights.

There is apparently a Summer festival in Kasukabe where they carry portable shrines (Mikoshi) through the streets. The festival I’ve been to was the Kasukabe Community Summer Festival (春日部コミュニティ夏まつり) followed by the fireworks. The community festival is not held near Kasukabe station, the closest station is Minami-Sakurai Station on the Tobu Noda Line.

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The festival site is the Showa Sogo Park (庄和総合公園). Since it is not a famous festival, there were hardly any signs of the festival at all when I left the station. What a difference compared to the festivals in Tokyo where I was almost guided by security from the train station to the festival site!

After walking for about 15 minutes, I reached the park. While the festival is well-visited, it’s not overcrowded. Food stalls were offering the usual food and snacks (yakisoba, okonomiyaki, kakigori) and I didn’t see any people rushing to save the best places for the fireworks part.

Kasukabe Matsuri  43 Read the rest of this entry

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