Sight Seeing

Sumida River Fireworks in Tokyo

Sumida River Fireworks1

Sumida River Fireworks

You probably will notice so many females wearing Yukata, a Japanese traditional summer Kimono, when you go out to the city of Tokyo on July 25th. It is the Sumida River Fireworks Show night!

Sumida River Fireworks Show is usually held on the last weekend (Saturday) of July and considered to be one of the 3 greatest fireworks show of Tokyo along with Edogawa Fireworks and Tokyo Bay Fireworks. Every year, more than 90,000 people gather by Sumida River for this historical fireworks show to watch the total of 20,000 fireworks set off.

History

Sumida River Fireworks show has its origin in way back of Japanese history, in the Edo Period. In 1732, the whole country was in chaotic and somber situation due to the great famine and epidemic. The population and the state of the country were decreasing drastically.
Next year, in 1733, Yoshimune Tokugawa, the 8th Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, held a ceremonial festival for the gods of water as a memorial service for who were killed by the famine and the epidemic and to pray for the bad disease to be cleared off. During this festival, the restaurants around Ryogoku Bridge set off fireworks which originate today’s Sumida River Fireworks Show. Since the festival took place by Sumida River on the opening day of river season, the Sumida River Fireworks Show was originally called as “The River Festival at Ryogoku” until 1961.

Fireworks of the River Festival at Ryogoku was canceled couple of times due to Meiji Revolution and the World War II. And after 1961, because of the bad traffic situation and water pollution of Sumida River, the festival could not take place until 1977.

The years passed by, and in 1978, the festival was newly re-named as “Sumida River Fireworks Show” and made its return by Sumida River surrounded by high-rise buildings. The setting off spot of the fireworks were moved to upstream of the river which are closer to the heart of city and the second setting off spot was additionally arranged to enable more and more people enjoy the fireworks. Ever since then, the Sumida River Fireworks Show has become one of the biggest summer event in Tokyo where people can enjoy a tasteful Japanese long tradition.

Sumida River Fireworks1

Fireworks Competition and Pyrotechnics

Out of 20,000 fireworks set off at the show, 200 of them are set off by competitors of the annual Fireworks Competition held as a part of the show. It takes place at the first site only, 7 local and 3 top ranked pyrotechnic companies will compete their craftsmanship with their beautiful fireworks.
Pyrotechnic is very interesting and profound technique that is still on the progress. Especially the technique to mix compounds to create the beautiful colors of fireworks is the most important and main part where pyrotechnicians can showcase their skills. Back in the Edo Period, there were not a lot of different kinds of compounds available for them to create fireworks, but today many study about chemical reaction has been done and fireworks becomes easier to create with many different colors.

Sumida River Fireworks1

Where to go during daytime

If you decide to watch the fireworks show at night, it is always a good idea to arrive at the area earlier during the day to avoid super crowded train. The area has enough attractions to entertain you for a whole day before the fireworks. Here are some recommendations:
Sensoji Temple
The Japanese oldest and one of the most famous temple that were built in 628. The Kaminarimon Gate with a big red lantern is magnificent.

Sumida Folk and Cultural Museum
Museum exhibits history and traditional culture of Sumidaku which were developed mainly in the area by Sumida River. It also plays its important role to inherit those traditions to young generations.

Kokugikan Hall
The symbolic building of Ryogoku, Kokugikan is the sanctuary of Sumo wrestling. The Sumo Museum located on the 1st floor of the hall exhibits more than 30000 pieces of historical Sumo related items.

Tokyo Edo Museum
Tokyo Edo Museum focuses on history of Tokyo specifically in Edo Period. It exhibits hundreds of items to show the 400 years prosperity of Tokugawa Shogunate. Among all the exhibits, the most magnificent is a miniature georama of the city of Edo located in the stairwell. You can observe people’s living of Edo Period.

Ryogoku Fireworks Museum
Ryogoku Fireworks Museum introduces and exhibits the history and artistry of fireworks and pyrotechnics

Access and viewing tips

The best way to access to the viewing sites of the fireworks would be taking trains. It is only 15 minute walk to the first site from Asakusa Station and only 5 minute walk to the second site from Kuramae Station on Tobu Railways, Tokyo Metro, and Toei Subway. On Tokyo Metro and Tobu Railways, there will be temporary trains run especially for the show, and on Toei Subway, there will be additional trains to smooth out the crowds.
Driving own car or taking a bus are not recommended at all, because there will be a large scaled traffic regulation on most of the surrounding roads and streets. The City Highway Route 6 will be shut down from late afternoon to around 9pm.
When you walk down to the site, just make sure not to stop or going on wrong way on the bridges to watch the fireworks. It is strictly NO STOPPING and ONE WAY rule on the bridges to avoid jammed traffic.
If you want to enjoy the show relaxing without any chaos or any crowds stepping on your feet and keep bumping into your back, you can become a cooperator by purchasing units of contribution to the show to get an invitation for special seating areas.
Details as followed:

▪At Ryogoku Water Terrace
1 person invited for 1 chair seat per 1 unit of contribution at 6000yen
▪At Taito Riverside Sport Center Baseball Ground
5 people invited for 1 sheet covered area per 1 unit of contribution at 7500yen
▪At Taito Riverside Sport Center Little League Baseball Ground
5 people invited for 1 sheet covered area per 1 unit of contribution at 7500yen
▪︎At Taito Riverside Sport Center Baseball Ground (For large group)
22 people invited for large sheet covered area per unit of contribution at 30000yen

Or you can even purchase a new condo room in surrounding area! There are many high-rise condominium buildings around that sells for fireworks view. You can have your own VIP seat!

This year, Sumida River Firework show is planned to be held on Saturday July 25th, from 7pm to 8:30pm, expecting more than 950,000 people to gather around. In case of bad weather, it will be re-scheduled on Sunday July 26th. Enjoy the night!

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