Not-so-crowded Fireworks Festivals Near Tokyo
Travel a bit farther for summer spectaculars without the masses.
The season of summer firework festivals, or hanabi taikai, starts in July and goes through August.
Huge fireworks festivals like Sumida River Fireworks in Asakusa, are iconic and definitely worth going to, but like everything popular in this country, the fun can easily be jilted by the endless crowds. Most fireworks fests get over populated, and by that, we’re talking about a half-million to 1 million people.
So, here’s a quick guide to off-the-beaten-track firework festivals in and near Tokyo to help travelers avoid the crowds.
Based on the outskirts of Tokyo, Okutama is a great one-day getaway from the city crowds, regardless of the season. The annual fireworks festival attracts just over 10,000 people, usually locals, yet the experience is as authentic as it gets. Start your day watching the lion dance and mikoshi (small portable shrine) parade at the Okuhikawa Shrine festival near Okutama station.
Then hike up to the summit of Mt. Atago, or stay around the station, just in time to watch the fireworks spark up the night sky against the beautiful Okutama woods.
When: Typically mid-August
Where: Hikawa, Okutama-machi, Nishitama-gun, Tokyo. Near JR Okutama station.
Known for its “Nagayama Dai Shomei”(Nagayama Great Lighting), this firework festival is a rare gem that separates itself from the other firework festivals. Complemented by music and gorgeous hill backdrop, the fireworks will light up the sky in different forms including the famous cascading fountain of illuminating gold lights.
Slightly larger than Okutama’s festival, this event has around 3,800 fireworks and 14,000 visitors every year. Purchase a seat of you’re watching from within Nagayama Park Ground.
When: Typically early August
Where: Nagayama Park Ground, 25 Sumiecho, Ome, Tokyo. 10 min walk from Ome Station
Reserved seats: ¥6,000 – ¥5,000
Immersed in the splendid Hakone nature, the summer night festival will be held near Lake Ashinoko. You can admire around 2,000 fireworks blossom in magnificent color and watch their graceful reflections on the surface of the lake. What’s even better, there will be some personal fireworks messages for an extra few thousand yen — including maybe your own?!
When: Typically early August
Where: Hakone Garden, 139 Motohakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture. Take a bus from Odawara Station bus stop and get off at Hakone-en bus stop.
Chiba’s Mother Farm is a popular day trip destination for many families, but in summer, it takes visitors’ expectations to another level with its daily firework events. Though not a typical festival, the vast farm allows plenty of space to see the night lights without anyone breathing on your shoulder.
There will be approximately 500 fireworks — a minor scale in comparison to the usual ones, but the perks of watching the night lights after petting cows and guinea pigs all day long, is irresistible!
When: Ongoing from the end of July to the end of August
Where: Mother Farm, 940-3 Tagura Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture. Take the bus from Kimitsu Station and get off at Mother Farm bus stop, 12 minute walk from bus stop.
Admission: ¥1,500 (Adult), ¥800 (Child), ¥600 (Dog)
What do shopping malls in less populated areas near Tokyo have that those in central Tokyo don’t? Fireworks. This shopping mall with the perfect name for the season, Festival Walk, hosts its own fireworks annually, inviting people to shop until late at night before they end their day with some lights in the sky.
It’s a fun event where 1,500 fireworks are released at the background of upbeat music. This year’s highlight is the Niagara Falls fireworks — apparently one of the largest of the kind in the Kanto region.
When: Date depends on yearly schedule
Where: 51-1 Kawasakicho, Chuo-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba Prefecture. Take the shuttle bus from Sogaeki-nishiguchi Station’s west exit and get off at Festival Walk.
This one gives you the chance to enjoy a day on the beach and see some great lights before you head home. Popular, and perhaps one of the more crowded on the list (a little over 30,000 people showed up last year), this one is a must see if you’re looking for a unique summer experience. Watching fireworks as you sit on the beach, is after all appealing in itself.
When: Typically the end of July
Where: Morito Kaigan, Horiuchi, Hayama-shi, Miura District, Kanagawa Prefecture. Take the bus from Zushi station and get off at Morito Shrine Bus Stop.
Dating back to 1948, the annual Sagami Lake Firework festival is more than your regular summer hanabi taikai. The historical event is held annually to commemorate the lives that were lost to the lake.
The 5,000 fireworks spreading across the lake form a breathtaking fountain of lights. A popular one in the Kanagawa region, and yet far less crowded than even the small ones in Tokyo.
When: Typically in early August
Where: 317-1 Midoriku Yose, Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. 10 minute walk from Sagamiko Station
Cost for reserved seats: ¥6,000 (for up to four), ¥2,000 (for one), ¥4,000 (sheet seats for up to four)