Ōmagari Fireworks Competition Draws Huge Crowds to Daisen, Akita Prefecture

Guide to Japan Travel Culture

On the final Saturday of August each year, the city of Daisen in Akita Prefecture hosts the National Fireworks Competition, which brings together masterful pyrotechnicians from around Japan. Twenty-eight selected companies compete in three categories: daytime fireworks that spread colorful smoke, conventional starbursts that produce great ball-shaped displays, and creative fireworks designed to express a particular theme. Every summer the competition attracts some 700,000–800,000 viewers to the site of the display in the Ōmagari district of Daisen. The event is commonly called “Ōmagari hanabi”—hanabi being Japanese for “fireworks.” This year it will take place on August 31.

The climax of the Ōmagari event is the competition in the third category, creative fireworks. Each company chooses a theme, which it expresses with lavish displays of stars forming distinctive shapes, exploding in time with a musical accompaniment. The companies are scored on their performance in the second and third categories, and the one with the top score receives the Prime Minister’s Award. When the show is over, viewers express their appreciation by waving penlights.

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Cable Networks Akita.)

festival summer Tōhoku Akita