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HANABI - Japanese Fireworks
vol.2-1

 
 

It is the end of summer and the air is cooling down preparing for the coming autumn.

We have briefly gone over some advice in viewing the fire art, and as announced we will see the various kinds of hanabi as well as its development over the history.

Fireworks in Japan can be classified into dozens of kinds if we see all the details, but here we are going to only look at the rough categories.  

Shikake-Hanabi
Trick Fireworks: fireworks with intentional “tricks” like shooting several at a time to create
express one picture.

Wakujikake
Frame Fireworks: fireworks called enkan connected with a kind of fuse that burns very fast
are placed on iron/ wooden frames of characters or images, and are burnt all at the same
time enabling the characters / images stay in the air for a few minutes.

Amijikake (aka Niagara)
Net Fireworks: the same kind of fireworks (enkan) as wakujikake also connected with jet
fuse are hung on a rope or a net ranging from a few meters to as long as a couple of
kilometers, which when fired releases streaks of fire downwards as if there is a wide fall of
light and fire. It is named after the Niagara Falls for its appearance and scale.

Star Mine
Star Mine: the tama and hoshi of uchiage-hanabi are placed in a set order connected
with jet fuse and are shot up one after another with a very short interval. Commonly used
as the backing of wakujikake. Mainly consisted of 2-go-dama (diameter 6cm) and
4-go-dama (diameter 14cm).

Tatebishikake 
Vertical Trick Fireworks: includes rantama in which several hoshi are shot out continuously
from the same trick cylinder that are set vertically (usually only one shot can be release
from one cylinder), and funsui which sparks of fire directly shoot out from the cylinder
making “fountains” of fire. Handheld funsui are called tezutsu and can be seen at summer
festivals as well.

Kuruma-Hanabi
Wheel Fireworks: cylinders filled with gunpowder are placed around on a disc or a ring,
which with the injection force is spun shooting out sparks in circles. Some are made into
small toy fireworks.

Ryuhsei, Rocket
Rocket Fireworks: as the name says, a kind of fireworks that resembles rockets being
launched. Cylinders filled with gunpowder are set on bamboo cylinders and are shot out
straight with the injection force. This kind is used a lot in festivals in the Chichibu region.

Having these points in mind when watching the fireworks will allow you to have a deeper and more interesting look at them.
In the next entry, let’s go over some other fireworks besides uchiage-hanabi and the history of fireworks in Japan, observing how it developed in Japanese culture.

 
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Photo: Kuki no Umi Hanabi Amijikake (aka Niagara) (fireworks)
 
 
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