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Storm forces cancelation of Sumida fireworks for first time in 35 years

22 Comments

A heavy storm on Saturday night caused the cancelation of the famous Sumida River fireworks festival in Tokyo for the first time in 35 years.

Unstable atmospheric conditions over the Kanto region brought heavy downpours to Tokyo at around 7 p.m., the Japan Meteorological Agency said Sunday.

The fireworks extravaganza started at 7:05 p.m. and was scheduled to last until 8:30 p.m., with more than 20,000 fireworks to be let off.

About 10 minutes after the festival began, strong winds hit the area, followed by thunder and then a downpour, Fuji TV reported. Organizers made the decision to cancel the festival after 30 minutes. It was the first time the Sumida fireworks festival had been canceled since 1978.

The festival is one of Japan's most famous, attracting nearly 100,000 spectators each year. It dates back to 1732, when fireworks were first used in festivals.

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22 Comments
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Well, I was there! While it was dissapointing that the fireworks only lasted 10 minutes (at the south site - the north site started 30 minutes earlier and went for about 40 minutes), when it stopped just raining and started pouring, everyone was having lots of fun in the rain. Singing in the rain! Like being a child again...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

People gathered from all over Japan looking forward to this festival. I remember watching the first live telecast on TV back in 1978. Mother Nature can be cruel at times.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That's a shame. Last night we had a great time at the the Miki City (Hyogo) fireworks and maturi.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I was there too. Luckily, I made it across the bridge before the storm hit and ran to the underpass for protection. There were thousands of people who was stuck on top of the bridge with no place to go, and they got very soaked. At one point I couldn't tell the difference between the fireworks and the lightning. That was weird. But everyone started drinking and made the best out of the situation. We all stuck around until the cops made us leave.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder what happens to the fireworks that didn't get used. Do they save them for next year? Or distribute them to other fireworks displays scheduled for the summer?

everyone was having lots of fun in the rain

Here the rain was like huge buckets of water being thrown against the windows. I wouldn't have liked to have been out in that at all. The dog was cowering under the stairs, whimpering. No fun at all.

I hope the weather is OK for our local fireworks display next weekend - the forecast doesn't look too good, though.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

We and the people around us caught in the downpour were having great fun, and several of us ditched our umbrellas and just enjoyed getting soaked (it is just water, after all). But I guess that the people who paid lots of money for expensive hotel rooms with a view were dissapointed. Along with the people who spend hours and hours in line to get to the top of Tokyo Skytree to see the fireworks from there.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Was at the 11th floor of a friend of ours house and dare I say, we got wet!!

Was great amd afterwards we drank a bunch of beers and had a great time.

Man I love the Japanaese spirit!

-1 ( +2 / -2 )

That storm caught a lot of people and not just those at Sumida. I live in Ota-ku and decided that I could beat the storm and grab my favorite Chu-Hi from the shop over the hill. lol. Big mistake. The wind kicked up and the rains came and came. I never rode my bike in a thunder shower before which added thrills to an otherwise quiet Saturday night.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I have a wonderful memory of Fireworks at Sumida River every summer (maybe 55-60 years ago?) when I was a child. I remember I was sitting among beautiful "Yanagibashi" Geisha ladies in Kimono, our family invited, who all smelled very nice to me. There were two fireworks floating boats carrying their own unique fireworks show; one is called "Tamaya" and the other one called "Kagiya".The show was always good filled with many beautiful surprises. I still remember a special bento called "Hanabi Bento" with lots of good stuffs. I sure would like to get one if there is any. I am very fortunate I see them all. I had a good life and it has been always full. I am very thankful that God has been very good to me for all these years.

8 ( +6 / -0 )

Such a shame - I went to the Sumida fireworks about 6 years back and it was one of the best I've ever seen. Our hanabi in Fukushima was cancelled last night due to crappy weather too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was watching from my apartment on the 12 floor in Ryogoku, I could see both north, south and the lightning from the storm too, was fun those, me and my wife just get drunk watching the rain. lol

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I wonder what happens to the fireworks that didn't get used. Do they save them for next year? Or distribute them to other fireworks displays scheduled for the summer?

I don't think the city has them. It's possible that Disney Land hires a team of technicians full-time and keep stocks, but the cities that do a yearly matsuri, I doubt it. A friend back home has a firework business and he has the qualification to do the big ones. They sell the service : the technician's work + the fireworks + insurance. His colleagues came to do some shows in Japan. From what I got the system is similar here. For security reasons, they are not allowed to sell big firework material, except to other technicians. When it's canceled, the company recuperates and keeps all the unused products as they are still responsible. If most are still usable, they may discount from the bill, but that's when they can cancel in advance. In a case like this, that's offsetted by recuperation costs. Tokyo taxpayers have lost it to the rain.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why don't they reschedule it? Mendokusai?

0 ( +2 / -1 )

looks like i'm the only one that was thinking "well there goes my 区民税 down the drain!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We were watching a movie about the ni-ni-roku (February 26th 1936) coup attempt, when the TV went dark and a message said there was not a strong enough signal, could be due to heavy rain, earthquake or your cable is not connected. I don't remember seeing this before.

The rain storm certainly was heavy, but I wonder whether the fact that our TV signal now comes from Sky Tree, which is further away, rather than from Tokyo Tower, makes a difference to reception.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm not disappointed. I go and watch more fireworks coming soon.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think it's absolutely fine for mother nature to show who's boss every now and again.

Our local festival was rained out but we had a good few beers first.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a shame 花火がない!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think it's absolutely fine for mother nature to show who's boss every now and again.

Yeah I agree. Lol Now that the weather becomes more and more unpredictable, big outdoor event organizers must have a plan B or even plan C.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I called n ask them in the morning and they were decided to go with rain..they should have rescheduled in the morning.. very BAD DECISION by Organizers..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JT, you're missing a zero in your estimate. It's between 950,000 and a million people. At least that is what I saw on the festival page.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was there the last time they were canceled ! I'm getting old, but have some very good memories of my more than twenty years in Japan !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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