Tokyobling's Blog

Tetzutsu Hanabi – Mishima Matsuri

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on August 24, 2015

Fireworks started being produced in Japan in the 16th century, soon after the introduction of gunpowder. Naturally they were used like we use them today, but it is said that in 1613, at a fireworks performance inside Edo Castle, the handheld fireworks had the Tokugawa shogun especially impressed and they spread in popularity from that point. Usually fireworks in Japan were made only by specially licensed masters but these handheld fireworks were made by hand by groups of young men who would together go out to gather bamboo, hollow them out into tubes and stuff them with gunpowder before taking them to the local shrine to show of their courage and skills. After lighting the tube, they start pouring a fountain of sparks that depending on the size of the fireworks can reach over ten meters in height. Between 10 and 60 seconds after the fountain of sparks (the roar) comes the bottom explosion, where the sparks fly out underneath to symbolize the wings of the beast, along with a loud bang and plenty of smoke.

These Tetzutsu Hanabi can be found here and there across Japan but are most common in the Mikawa-Enshu area (Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures) where there are several famous festivals featuring this tradition. I visited the summer festival in Shizuoka Prefecture’s Mishima City, at the Mishima Taisha grand shrine where a group of local young men fired hundreds of these hand held fireworks during a 30 minute inferno. The men will walk around a set perimeter holding tubes up. There are a few different sizes of tubes as well as color fireworks and they get progressively bigger as the performance advances.

Few festivals are such an assault on the senses as this one. The noise is spectacular, with explosions every few seconds, the constant roar of the tubes, the flashes of light and fountains of lighted sparks and smoke. But most lasting is the smell! I was lucky not to be standing in the direction of the wind and still my hair, my skin, my camera and my clothes were covered in a light film of greasy gunpowder residue. I don’t think I have ever smelled so bad in my life! Still it was absolutely worth seeing it.

mishima_matsuri_2015_1170
mishima_matsuri_2015_1190
mishima_matsuri_2015_1367
mishima_matsuri_2015_1463
mishima_matsuri_2015_1502

Advertisements

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I. J. Khanewala said, on August 25, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Great photos. This is a festival I would love to see.

    Like

  2. orangejaeger said, on September 1, 2015 at 8:22 am

    I wish someday I could visit Japan #bucketlist

    Like

  3. rudyhou said, on November 2, 2015 at 7:34 am

    great pics. but shouldn’t those people be wearing something to at least protect their eyes and face?

    Like

  4. berolahragabasket said, on March 14, 2016 at 7:46 am

    it’s so beautiful

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: