A bouquet of fire flowers illuminates the night sky.
Osaka's fire flowers were in full bloom last weekend as two teams of pyrotechnic geniouses went all out in a battle of bling and boom: The Yodogawa Fireworks Competion.
Each team shot up 5,000 fireworks (for a total of 10,000) from eight pontoons anchored along the banks of the Yodogawa River, the bright lights of Umeda sparkling in the background.
As I said in my previous post, the PL fireworks display in Tondabayshi is the biggest in the world, but Yodogawa blew it away! PL may have the quantity down (120,000 blossoming explosives), but is lacking in the quality department. Of course this is all coming from a born again fireworks fanatic, spoiled by my recent enlightenment of Hanabi-do, the way of Japanese fireworks. Nothing I have ever seen in America, including the Macy's 4th of July extravaganza in New York, even comes close to what I've seen in Osaka.
First of all, PL is held on a golf course, with very little air movement. Only PL members are allowed into the compound, while other spectators are forced to sit outside it on hot cement in the stale summer night. With little to no breeze, the smoke of the explosions amasses into great, stationary clouds that block most of the displays and obscure the rest of them.
Yodogawa, however, is fireworks in their finest form. Launched over a river, the cool breeze clears the starry canvas of smoke and keeps the crowds cheerful, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over each and every piece of pyrotechnic magic. Sparkling streams of falling fire reflecting on the river's rippled surface, cool grass ticking your feet, and sounds of anticipation and delight provided by the enthusiastic Japanese crowds. Thunderous explosions of light and color filled me with awe and wonder as the ground shook beneath me. It was as if I was seeing the creation of the universe before my very eyes.
Word of the greatness of Yodogawa has spread far and wide, drawing flocks of hundreds of thousand of people to flank both banks of the Yodogawa River for a chance to see the spectical up close. The first firework was shot off at 8:00PM, but when Yuko, her mother, sister, and I arrived in the city, every available parking spot was taken. It was only 3PM, and the sidewalks and narrow sidestreets were already filling with brightly colored yukatas, tropical flowered up-dos and trendy Japanese youngsters too cool for tradtional clothing, all heading for the river.
Although we had to wait 4 hours for the show to begin, I do not hesitate to say that it was worth every minute, and I will gladly do it again next year! Thank you Yuko! I will never forget it! Especially the part where everyone started climbing the 10 foot wall in yukata to escape the massive crowds filing out through two narrow staircases! Or the crazy lightning that split the sky from one horizon to the other and continued the amazing display of light in the heavens almost one cue, as soon as the fireworks had ended.
And now for something completely different...