Fireworks are a typical form of summertime entertainment in Japan. While there are many fireworks festivals in Yamaguchi Prefecture, the biggest one is the Kanmon Straits festival, which is held in August (August 13th in 2014). Pick a spot anywhere along the coast and you’ll be able to see the fireworks, but it can get really crowded. If you want to avoid the throngs of people, then get a viewing spot on Ganryu Island, which I’ll introduce here.
Ganryu Island, home of a famous duel between two master swordsmen
Ganryu Island is well known as the place where a famous duel took place between the master swordsmen Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki, and the island welcomes a large number of tourists every year. With a circumference of 1.6 kilometers, Ganryu is a fairly small island, but it has a lovely coastal park and many photogenic monuments and statues of Musashi and Kojiro. In the photo here, you can see the two fighters dueling against the fireworks. Use a tripod if you want to capture a similar view. The island is not connected with the mainland by bridges, so the only access is by boat. There are regular boats from both Shimonoseki and Mojiko Ports, but during the fireworks festival I recommend using the special boat from Hikojima’s Enoura Wharf. It provides service even late after the festival has ended. The boat takes about 3 minutes and costs 1000 per person, round trip.
A spacious viewing area
In the photo you can see how the island looks minutes before the fireworks begin. What do you think? Pretty spacious and empty, right? Compared to one of the crowded viewing spots in the city, its unbelievable nice watching the show from here. Many families bring a barbecue set for a small picnic or have lunch boxes. Those who want to enjoy the fireworks more than statues of Musashi and Kojiro should head to the beach area along the promenade. Watch the variety of ships and boats crossing the Kanmon Straits as you wait for the fireworks to start.
The fireworks against the backdrop of Kanmon Bridge!!
Finally, the fireworks start!! The festival is jointly organized by Shimonoseki and Kita-Kyushu cities. Over 13,000 fireworks light up the sky along both sides of the Kanmon Straights. The show is almost like a competition between the two sides and is definitely a sight to see! Being able to watch the fireworks from this fantastic spot is feels like quite a luxurious experience. Whether just laying on the ground and watching the show or losing yourself taking as many photos as possible, you can enjoy the fireworks festival however you like. (the photo here shows the fireworks from Shimonoseki’s side)
It’s not over even after the fireworks finish!
You can take in not only the fireworks but also the surrounding nightscape. Many luxurious ships come to the Kanmon Straits for the festival, and watching their dazzling lights is yet another sight to enjoy.
Here, you can see belts of lights around big ships. These are the lights of smaller boats returning to their ports after the fireworks have ended. Views like these are characteristic of big fireworks shows in Japan.
All aspects of Yamaguchi Prefecture’s biggest fireworks festival can be fully enjoyed from Ganryu Island. Make the trip out to this this quiet and spacious spot, and watch the light show in the sky.
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