An essential part of any summer in Tokyo, fireworks displays will again be taking place all over and around the capital in July and August. This year's celebrations kick off with the Kamakura Fireworks on July 20 and include everything from classics (Sumida River, Jingu Gaien) to film-themed festivals (Chofu) and smaller-scale happenings out in the western forests (Ome).
It's time to dust off your yukata, find the best viewing spot well in advance, and enjoy the colourful spectacle while snacking on some tasty festival grub. And if you need a drink after the show, try one of the city's best beer gardens.
Our top firework picks
Kamakura Fireworks Festival
If the many Tokyo summer fireworks displays are a little too crowded and urban for your taste, head on down to the beach in Kamakura for this small-scale but fun and energetic local version. The colourful explosions are made even more impressive by the reflections off the surface of the water, and unimpeded views are not hard to find. Note that the event will be moved to July 21 in case of bad weather, and cancelled in case of two consecutive rainy days.
With its origins going back as far as 1924, Adachi's annual fireworks festival returns in July and kicks off the Tokyo fireworks season. Around 13,500 rockets will be shot up from two locations along the Arakawa – the Nishi-Arai side of the river is usually the best spot for relaxed viewing.
Katsushika Noryo Hanabi
Held every year along the Edogawa, Katsushika's popular fireworks festival is known for the short distance between where the around 13,000 rockets are shot up and where onlookers are allowed to sit. Walk along the picturesque street reaching from Shibamata's Taishakuten temple to the river and you'll get a taste of what Edo must have been like in summer.
Hayama Kaigan Fireworks Festival
If fireworks at the beach are your thing, there's no better summer event than Hayama's annual hanabi festival. Around 1,000 fireworks are shot up from the Isshiki tide embankment, making for a small-scale but spectacular show as the colourful explosions reflect off the water. Consider heading over early, finding a comfy spot on the sand and watching the fireworks rise from behind Mount Fuji while the last rays of the sun are still visible on the horizon.
Sumida River Fireworks Festival
Japan's oldest recorded fireworks festival dates back to 1733, when it was staged as part of a ceremony to pray for victims of a severe famine the previous year. Today, it's by far the largest display in the capital – this year's will involve more than 20,000 fireworks – and regularly draws close to a million spectators. Note that the event will be moved to Sunday if the weather is poor.
Edogawa Fireworks Festival
Tokyo's easternmost fireworks festival – officially 'Exciting Hanabi Edogawa' – takes place along the banks of the Edo River north of Shinozaki and merits a trip just for the first five seconds of action. This is when a whopping 1,000 silver and gold rockets are shot up in spectacular fashion, functioning as an impactful intro to the remaining 75 minutes during which 13,000 fireworks themed on everything from Mt Fuji to stardust are launched into the summer sky.
Idabashi Fireworks Festival
Taking advantage of a serendipitous schedule clash, Itabashi's annual fireworks display takes place at the same time as the one in Toda City, just across the waters of the Arakawa River. You can expect a combined 12,000 fireworks to go up in the course of the evening, including an enormous ‘star mine’ and the spectacular ‘Niagara Falls’, a 700-metre chain of explosions that always draws the biggest cheers of the night. If you want to guarantee yourself a good vantage point, reservations for reserved seating areas are being taken from June 25 (details, in Japanese only, available here).
Ome Noryo Fireworks Festival
First held in 1948 to mark the opening of Toei Bus service in the Ome region, this fireworks display is recommended for those who want to escape the crowds at Tokyo's big-name alternatives. The 'falling fire' effect caused by some of the explosions is impressive (and loud!), but the real highlight is when nearby Nagayama Hill is lit up by the massive fountain of bursting colour set up on the hill's hiking trail. Note that the event will be moved to the following day in case of bad weather.
Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival
Yukata-clad spectators crowd the streets of Harajuku and Aoyama during the annual Jingu Gaien Fireworks, a display that ranks alongside the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay events as one of Tokyo's top summer fireworks festivals.
The cluster of sports stadiums to the south of Sendagaya Station offer the best vantage points, albeit at a significant premium: expect to pay between 2,500 yen and 7,000 yen for admission to each, which includes a program of J-pop performances in the run-up to the fireworks themselves. Alternatively, just wander around the surrounding area until you find somewhere you can see the action for free.
Chofu Summer Fireworks
Chofu builds on the success of the past few years for its 34th annual hanabi celebration, celebrating its connection to the movie industry in an explosive way. Several film scenes have been shot on the banks of the Tamagawa, and the city is home to multiple studios and film-related companies. Dubbed the 'City of Cinema: Chofu Summer Fireworks', this festival sees around 8,000 rockets launched over the river, choreographed to popular film scores.
Five great spots for fireflies in Tokyo
Rainy day in Tokyo