Kurume Fireworks Festival

On the day I arrived in Fukuoka, my supervisor and Vice Principal picked me up from the airport. After taking me to the school to meet the Principal and staff while I was still soaked in sweat, they brought me to my apartment for the first time.  The apartment, or Jutakku, as we call it, is a large cinder block building located next to a junkyard of some sort. My first impression was… a year? here?

Luckily, there are 8 other ALT’s living in my building and I was not forced to suffer alone. Four of them are in their second year and immediately they took us under their wing and brought us to a festival in the nearest town. A fireworks festival. One of the largest fireworks festivals in western Japan.

Japan is obsessed with quantifying statements about tourist or other attractions. I have seen ‘one of the three best castles in Japan’, ‘one of the three best views in Japan’ and ‘one of the largest sake festivals in western Japan’. It reminds me of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival ‘the world’s largest outdoor, one day, maple syrup festival.

Anyway, the Kurume fireworks festival was an excellent introduction to the festival culture of Japan. We’ve been to a lot of festivals now, but the first was something special. Rows and rows of food I actually recognized as Japanese food, which was not the case at the grocery store, festival games, and beautiful, gigantic fireworks. Women and men were wearing yukata, or summer kimonos, and pensioners were showing us to seats along the river bank.

Festival Stalls

When the fireworks began, we Japan newbies were astounded by their length and beauty.  The show had two central points along the river, so people around the bend could also see. It went on for an hour and a half, and the finale was spectacular. Of course, on the way home I got completely lost trying to find that cinder block apartment, and wandered around my new town for over an hour. By that point I was glad to see the building and I have been happily, mostly, living there since. Just don’t get me started on the bugs…

Related posts: