Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Niigata
Population
2,475,724

Nagaoka Fireworks Festival

One of Japan’s Top 3 displays.

Usually just a low-key town blessed with delicious rice and rice wine, Nagaoka becomes a nerve center for more than half a million people with its Nagaoka Fireworks Festival every August. While big and small fireworks festivals fill the calendar of Japanese summers, few carry as much history and emotion as the one in Nagaoka, which is one of Japan’s Top 3 displays.

Nagaoka Fireworks start around 7:20 p.m.

Throughout the decades, this annual burst of colors has lifted many Japanese locals’ spirits. The perhaps not well-known but small city in northern Niigata Prefecture was bombed during World War II and witnessed the death of 1,500 people, as well as up to 80 percent destruction of the city. In 1946, a year after the event, the city started the fireworks festival in order to mourn for the deceased.

The festival

Every year from Aug. 1-3, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the banks of Shinano River near Oteo Bridge to get a charge out of the large-scale firework displays and heart-shaking echoes. Not only do the 20,000 fireworks (over two nights) illuminate the night sky with constant color, but they also come in the shape of chrysanthemum, bouquets, volcanoes, and Niagara Falls — just to name a few.

Among many fireworks, the “Pheonix” is definitely the highlight of the festival. With five minutes of fireworks timed perfectly with Ayaka Hirahara’s powerful song “Jupiter,” written to lift up local spirits after a disastrous earthquake in 2007, many people are moved to tears.

Visitors should note that the fireworks take place on Aug. 2 and 3, while other events such as mikoshi (portable shirnes) parades, traditional dance processions and toro nagashi (floating paper lanterns down a river) take place on Aug. 1.

Nagaoka gets very busy during the three-day festival so make sure you allow sufficient time (probably hours before the official start) to claim a spot in the free spectator areas which are further away. If you’d like to have a more spectacular view of the fireworks, check out the prices of admission tickets below.

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Things To Know

Dates and fees

Fireworks are free. There are “grand tickets” for a better seat for sale from anywhere between ¥3,000 and ¥18,000. These tickets are on a first-come-first-serve basis so reserve them from convenience stores as early as May!  Fireworks, on Aug. 2 and 3, start at 7:20 p.m. and end around 9:10 p.m. 

Picnic time

Bring a picnic blanket and food for the duration of the fireworks. It gets very crowded and can be difficult to move around even within the venue.

Website

https://nagaokamatsuri.com (Japanese)

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒940-0000 Niigata-ken, Nagaoka-shi, Kusouzumachi, 国道351号線

By train

From Tokyo, it takes less than two hours to get to Nagaoka station on the Joetsu Shinkansen. The festival venue is 20 minutes on foot from the station walking toward Otoe bridge (Map). 

By car

Exit at Nagaoka Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway. Parking is very limited and festival parking lots mostly charge a fee. Expect lots of traffic on the way home.

Where To Stay

Hotel Route-Inn Nagaoka Inter
  • Sakaihigashi-cho 85 Nagaoka-Shi, Niigata 940-2026
  • 7.8/10
  • 1.7 km
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Nagaoka Grand Hotel
  • Higashi Sakanouemachi 1-2-1 Nagaoka-Shi, Niigata 940-0066
  • 7.2/10
  • 1.8 km
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Hotel Hokke Club Niigata Nagaoka
  • Jonaicho 1-3-2 Nagaoka-Shi, Niigata 940-0061
  • 8.3/10
  • 1.9 km
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Hotel Route-Inn Nagaoka Ekimae
  • Jounai-cho 1-1-5 Nagaoka-Shi, Niigata 940-0061
  • 7.1/10
  • 1.9 km
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