I live in Tokyo now but most of my friends and family do not. The main idea here is that I can tell these people about interesting things that happen and are seen.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I Went to the Ichikawa Fireworks Display

I almost didn't. The heat, new shoes, and the basic crappiness of my legs and feet have conspired to give me a couple of meeeeean blisters. But in the end the statistics convinced me - anticipated audience of 500,000 - 14,000 individual fireworks to be exploded - about 9 years since I last saw a firework more impressive than a Moon Traveller. I didn't come to Tokyo to sit around in Matt's lounge (though thus far there is plenty of evidence to the contrary).

I could set the scene here, but you might as well just go take a look at teh flickarrz. The fireworks display itself will bear a little more description, since I failed to take any decent pictures of it.

It was pretty astonishing. They started off with a bunch of individual rockets that would easily have provided the money shot of any previous display I'd seen at Waitakere Stadium or wherever. Then about twenty minutes in, a woman with an extremely high-pitched voice made some kind of announcement - she sounded like someone who would clap her hands rapidly and bounce on her heels when she laughs. Here is my attempt at a translation from the Japanese:

Well shucks look at you all getting worked up and gasping and applauding like a bunch of idiots over some little baby rockets that we only set off to test whether the lighter was working. It is pretty pathetic - maybe you ought to leave? I think you should leave. We could give you a sparkler on your way out and you could go home and look at that. You could write your name in the air. Wouldn't that be nice? See, we gonna let off some ACTUAL fireworks now and we don't no-one filling they pants or nothing SO IF YOU CAN'T DEAL - YOU LEAVE. DO YOU GET ME."

And the real jaw-dropping, sky-filling stuff began... and then ended, and we went back to individual rockets and sparklers for a while. I guess the thing about a fireworks display is that you can't just set off everything at once. They had to sustain a 70 minute display or something so it was structured as a series of climaxes interspersed with, well, filler. Overall it was amazing but, well, I'd have edited it down a bit myself. At least you knew when the good stuff was coming because the lady would come back on and say Well okay I suppose you have been patient I guess we can show you some real fireworks again now and stirring martial music would start playing.

They even had fireworks that can explode into a smiley face or a heart. So is fireworks technology now "complete"? I couldn't think of anything to do with a firework that these guys did not do, aside from some Gandalf crap that is not even real.

Afterwards I had to contend with the hundred thousand other people that wanted to catch a train back into the city. That was the sort of thing that, the first time you do it, you can chalk it up as somehow character building. But I feel there would be little benefit in experiencing it ever again.


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