10 Tips to Help You Enjoy Japan’s Summer Fireworks Festivals

Bring a flashlight!

Much has been said about Japan’s cherry blossom season, but the summers are pretty spectacular, too. Between June to August, locals and tourists alike can enjoy a number of fireworks festivals, including the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival, the oldest fireworks festival in the world! If you’re going to be in Japan around this time, here are a few tips to help you enjoy the experience to the fullest:

Do your research.
Look up the festival programs beforehand, and consistently check social media for real-time updates (Most will be in Japanese though.). Doing so won’t just help you plan your itinerary accordingly, but also give you ideas on the best spots to enjoy the fireworks from.

Protect yourself from the heat.
Japan’s summers can be pretty intense. Make sure to put on some sunscreen (yes, even if the fireworks display is at night), stay hydrated, and bring a hat or a fan to keep you cool. A yukata, a casual and single-layered cotton kimono that is usually worn by locals during the summer, is a good choice because of its breathable material. Some people have also been known to use cooling sheets for the face as well. You can buy these at convenience stores.

Picnic blankets are key. 
Ask any local--one of the best places to view Japan’s fireworks displays is from the parks along the rivers. Make sure to bring picnic blankets to avoid getting grass stains on your clothes.  It’s also important to remember that not all venues will allow you to save spots, so make sure to check in advance.

Bring wet tissue, band-aids, insect repellant, and a flashlight!
You’re going to be outdoors in the summer until late in the night. These items will definitely come in handy. 

Bring your own garbage bag. 
You’re likely going to be drinking and eating as you enjoy the fireworks displays. To avoid the hassle of looking for a trash bin, just bring your own bag. 

Familiarize yourself with the area.
Before it gets really crowded, take the opportunity to find out where the nearest restrooms, first-aid booths, and exit points are. If you’re traveling with a group, agree on a common meeting place in case anyone gets separated.

Avoid bringing lots of cash.
It’s better not to bring large amounts of money for this type of event. Just bring enough change for transportation and for buying stuff from the food stalls. Yakisoba and takoyaki would sell for around ¥700, while convenience store meals would sell for around ¥500 on average.

Expect train stations to be packed after the display. 
If you’re not in a hurry to go home, wait a while before heading over to the station. You can also choose to walk your way to the first stop from the nearest station. While this isn’t a guarantee that the next station won’t be just as packed, you’ll at least have time to enjoy the evening breeze.

If you’re using an IC card, another tip is to make sure that it has enough credits beforehand, so you don’t have to line up for the ticket vending machine on your way home along with everyone else. Alternatively, you can also buy your return ticket as soon as you arrive.

Always be polite.
As crowded as it will be, try not to hit or push people around you. If you accidentally do so, make sure to say "I'm sorry" or “Sumimasen” right away. Don’t let the long queues get to you either. And in order to allow everyone to enjoy the display, pack your things compactly. 

Adopt an attitude of gratitude.
The crowd, the heat, finding the perfect spot--all these can be stressful at first, but at the end of the day, no matter where you’re watching from or whom you’re with, you can’t help but appreciate the fact that the festival was most likely organized by volunteers who are doing everything in their power to make sure that you get to witness the most beautiful fireworks light up the night sky.

Provided by Tokyo Walker (National), Tokyo Walker™, Japan Walker™, and Walkerplus™ (12 June 2018)

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