“The night sky was covered in light. I’ve never seen fireworks like this before.” “The only thing I could see was the flashes and explosions! It was just amazing.” “It was like a dream. I’m so glad that I was there.”
These are just a few comments from people who have experienced the Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks Festival from the special seats. This festival held in Fukuroi, Shizuoka prefecture every summer is one of the biggest fireworks festivals in Japan.
Colorful flashes cover your sight, as the night is filled with the sound of explosions and cheers from the crowd.
In Japanese, this sort of view that one can never see in normal daily life is called “zekkei.”
The scale and the number of fireworks at the Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks Festival are great, but the “zekkei” that you can experience here is to be found in the moments when your eyes and ears are blanketed by the sight and sound of fireworks.
The fireworks festival is held at a riverbed on the outskirts of town, so you can see the fireworks from a distance. But it is said that you can only enjoy this “zekkei” from a limited area; the special seats inside the venue. There are two kinds of special seat. One is a “sponsor seat” and the other is a “paid seat.”
You can see “zekkei” under certain conditions, when the weather and the position of the sun are just right. There are essentially two conditions that create zekkei at the Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks.
1. You must be sitting in one of the special seats that is placed at the optimal angle to enjoy fireworks.
2. There must be wind blowing when fireworks are launched.
These two conditions have to be fulfilled.
The reason for the first condition is that the fireworks technicians try to display their best fireworks for the judges in the special seats. This festival is also the “National Fireworks Expert Tournament”, an event in which fireworks technicians from all over Japan compete. That is the reason why the flashes and sound of fireworks accumulate around the special seats the most.
And the spectators who have experienced “zekkei” also mention the sound as it can only be heard from the location of the special seats. Those seats are closest to the area where the fireworks are launched. Furthermore, special effects such as how the fireworks are launched in time to music played inside the venue also contribute to the experience of “drifting in a sea of light.”
The second condition is most difficult to ensure, because nothing can be done to control the weather. Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks Festival is held only once a year and is affected by wind at that moment.
The wind must blow from three directions: north, west, and east.
It is also said that wind speeds of two to three meters per second are most desirable.
Because so many fireworks are launched, clouds of smoke will hide their flashes if there is no wind. Without wind, there can be no “zekkei”.
One of the locals who goes to the “Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks Festival” every year says “Even if you get a ticket for the special seat, because of wind and rain, the conditions for zekkei are only met once every few years.” You only get a chance to see “zekkei” once per year, and the conditions are not easily cleared, but that makes it all the more special if you are able to experience it.
Get a ticket for either a “paid seat” or a “sponsor seat” and wait for the conditions to be cleared. (Anyone can be a sponsor.) The weather on midsummer night is unpredictable. You will never know if the conditions are cleared or not. But if you are able to experience zekkei, it is fate. It means you are one of the lucky few. Come visit Shizuoka and experience drifting in a sea of light!