"" Writer's Wanderings: The Fireworks

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Fireworks

Who doesn't love a fireworks display? Certainly it is a big draw in Tokyo and the show is never a disappointment. According to one site that listed several fireworks festivals throughout the summer anywhere from a thousand to twenty thousand fireworks could be launched at a given festival. Our son had a planned office event for his team and their families where they would all meet for the Tamagawa Fireworks Festival and they invited Bob and I to come along.

We left in the early afternoon to get to the area where the fireworks would be and try to avoid the heavy crowds. I'm not sure what he meant by avoid heavy crowds because by the time we made the train and a couple of stops, the train workers were actually stuffing people in the cars. You didn't need to hold on to the straps if you were standing. You couldn't have fallen if you'd tried.

Same the world over.
The train station where we exited was full of people and lots of official personnel who were each given a bull horn and were yelling something at the crowd to keep them moving and orderly. It was quite an experience. A shopping mall next to the station was where we were directed so that we could keep cool while the others gathered at a restaurant and went to fill their cooler with cold drinks. Bob and I had some shopping to do so getting out of the crowd and into the stores was a welcome relief.

We were kind of hungry and realized we hadn't eaten lunch so we ducked into a nearby McDonald's and ate a Big Mac. At the appointed time we met everyone outside the McDonald's and began to make our way to the dry riverbank of the Tamagawa River where our tickets would get us into an area that was laid out with plastic ribbon in a graph. Within each square was a blue tarp that could be spread out to sit on.

The group had purchased enough tickets to get us two tarps for a total of twenty people. There was all sorts of finger foods and snacks spread in the middle and they all began to dig in. Unfortunately we were still full from our Big Mac attack but we managed to taste a few things.

Clouds began to gather and darken and the rain that had threatened all afternoon to possibly cancel the fireworks began. We covered up with umbrellas and ponchos and rain gear and waited it out. At one point it really came down hard and we had to stand up because the tarp was filling with water.

Once there was a break in the rain, the group moved the food to one tarp and shook the other. Then repeated the same with the other tarp. Gradually the light rain let up entirely and we stowed our rain gear. All along the way to the riverbank and while we were waiting on the tarp I had noticed quite a few men and women in kimonos. The women's of course were very ornate and beautiful. I wondered how they had fared in the rain.

It gets dark around 6:30 in Tokyo and the fireworks were due to start at 7. Our daughter-in-law arrived with the kids who had been to a movie with some friends. Before long, the music began and the show in the sky became spectacular. There were so many people gathered along the bank of the river that there were actually two fireworks displays going at the same time--one further down from us. I never imagined fireworks could be delicate but there seemed a delicate mix of music and displays, not the usual marching music and 1812 Overture we hear back home.

The show lasted an hour and when it was over we sat and visited while the crowd thinned a bit. Eventually all those bull horns began chasing those who were lingering and we gathered our things and began to make our way back to the station. We only rode the train a couple of stops and got off to go visit the old neighborhood where our kids lived the first year they were in Tokyo. The local bar and restaurant where they often ate was full of people all of whom seemed to know my son and his family quite well. Think of the Cheers bar where everyone knows your name.

We stayed and enjoyed the hospitality for a while as the old friends caught up on each other's lives and our grandkids learned some new tricks from the local magician. Eventually we made our way to the station again, stopping along the way to say hello to a few others. It had been a great night despite getting slightly damp in the rain. I'm glad we didn't miss it.

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