We made it to Koume Elementary School around 630 and made our way to the roof. Once on the roof, we found our table and chatted with our hosts and hostesses for the evening.
For dinner we were given an amazing bento box with food from all over Japan, water, tea, wine and beer.
Top row: Boiled clams and Nori from Tokyo; Octopus Dumplings from Osaka; Sesame rice from Nagano; Fried oyster from Hiroshima
Middle row: red beet, chicken dumpling, fish paste from Irate, Miyagi, Yamagata; rice with fish flakes from Kyoto; egg, flounder roe from Fukuoka; buckwheat rice and pickled ginger from Kobe
Bottom row: Salmon roe rice from Hokkaido; Shrimp and broccoli from Yokohama; tonkatsu from Nagoya; sweet potato from Saitama
After a quick speech from the President of the Fireworks Committee, we waited for the show to begin.
Let the show begin! Right off the bat...1,495 fireworks in less than ten minutes!! This is over an hour long show, folks! The program shows 22 separate demonstrations in 1 hour 20 minutes. Each demonstration has a different theme...The beginning with Thunder, Gallant Fireworks, After the Rain, The Kaleidoscope Like a Jewel on the River, Finding Mushrooms on the Sumida River, The Rain of Cherry Blossoms, The Drunkard in Summer, Pocket Monsters, The Space Shuttle, Many Flowers of Edo, etc. All-in-all, over 20,000 fireworks were set off during the show! 12 different companies had the chance to set off 20 fireworks each in the competition.
Here's a quick clip of one minute out of the 85 minute show.
It's hard to see in this shot, but on the other side of the big buildings in the distance is a second fireworks show. There are two venues for fireworks (trying to keep with the history of the fireworks where two feuding clans would set off their own shows and the crowds would chant their favorite clan name to show who won). We didn't have a good view of Venue 2's show. The competition was only at Venue 1, so we had upfront seats for that one! Also, that's the MetLife blimp brightly lit to the right.
Our group made it onto a crowded train and headed toward home. After a quick change at Shinagawa we found seats and got to sit for the last 35 minutes or so of the ride.
Wow! What an experience!! Even though it was insanely hot when we arrived (over 90F/33C with stupid-thick humidity) we guzzled water and drank cold beer (maybe it was drank water and guzzled beer, I can't remember) and used whatever paper was available to fan ourselves. Occasionally, a nice breeze would kick up and fan us naturally. As soon as the sun was close to the horizon the unbearable heat subsided to become just a warm summer evening.
I can't seem to find any information on who won the fireworks competition. Someone said it was contestant number 9. Well, I don't know if that means #9 on the schedule (The Japanese Fireworks Viewing Banquet) or the 9th competitor to show (The Drunkard in Summer~yes, I sang that as if I was Olaf). Either way, my favorite was The Kaleidoscope, it was definitely like looking through one of those tubes I always had plastered to my eyes as a kid.
If you are in Japan next summer, please don't be afraid of the crowds and chose not to go. There are many places to stand and watch, even if you make it there last minute. You don't have to reserve a spot to watch. They set off several test shots a full hour before the show began, so if you arrive a little early you can wait for a test shot and then figure out where to sit.