Fireworks Festivals Take Over Fuji Five Lakes
Summer in Japan is synonymous with festivals (matsuri) and fireworks (hanabi). From small towns to large cities, people gather around to eat, drink, and enjoy the stunning display of lights. The Fuji Five Lakes area at the foot of Mount Fuji is no exception.
During the first week of August when hotels and campsites fill up around Fujikawaguchiko Town, a string of firework festivals are held at each one of the lakes. From August 1st to August 5th, and from Lake Yamanakako to Lake Motosuko, the skies around the Yamanashi-side of Mount Fuji light up with colourful firework displays, and the lakeshores host the crowds looking to get a glimpse of the light shows.
Hitting each of the firework matsuri is a doable feat, but a better option is to checkout a couple of festivals and leave the other nights to chill out at your hotel or by the fire next to your tent. In this case, two of our favourite events are the Shojiko Ryoko Festival and the Kawaguchiko Kojo Festival; these two are held on August 4th and 5th, and round up the fireworks craze in the area.
Lake Shojiko is the smallest lake of the “Fuji Five” and its summer festival has an intimate feel to it. The Shojiko Ryoko Festival actually combines a local music festival with the fireworks display so you get the pleasure of viewing the lit up sky while enjoying the live music (courtesy of local bands) and festival treats like grilled mochi (rice cakes) and beer.
During the festivities at Shojiko, kids dressed up in their yukatas get their own fun time as an area on the beach is set up for them to light up sparklers just prior to their big show in the sky. At Shojiko all you need to do is find a spot on the beach and enjoy the spectacle. If you are lucky, the skies will clear up and the fireworks will be complemented by Mount Fuji on the horizon.
The most famous of all however is held at Kawaguchiko, and being the main lake in the area, it gathers the biggest crowd. On both sides of the Kawaguchiko Ohashi Bridge, people set up their blankets and camping chairs along the lakeshore to get the best view of the light show. Prior to the first shot, local shops set up their satellite tents along the streets of Funatsu-hama and Azagawa onsen towns and welcome a horde of people happily parading around the town in their yukatas. The festival is as much about hitting up the tents and joining friends with drink in hand on a picnic blanket, as it is about watching the show up in the sky.
At 7:00pm sharp, the first firework is lit up, and for two hours, the sky over Kawaguchiko is filled with beautiful colours and jaw-dropping designs. If you want to be in the thick of the festival, the recommended place to watch the fireworks is near Kawaguchiko Herb Hall or around Funatsu-hama. For those that prefer a quieter firework experience, watching it from the Ubuyagasaki Cape is a better option.