In 1733, the shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune held Japan’s first aerial display along the Sumida River to dispel evil spirits, and comfort the souls of the 1 million cholera epidemic victims.

By the 1960s, Japan was annually shipping ¥1.5 billion of fireworks overseas. Then, in the 1970s the Chinese government eased restrictions and fireworks became one of the country’s first major exports – today controlling 90 percent of the international market.

Which is why viewing fireworks – hanabi – in Japan is a special occasion that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world. This weekend head to Edogawa to watch a grand display that would make Tokugawa Yoshimune – and the souls of 1 million cholera victims – proud.


Edogawa Fireworks Festival 2019

In the first five seconds of this festival 1,000 fireworks are launched into the sky. From there the theme changes every 10 minutes, with eight themes in total. Spectators can watch the show on the riverbanks of both Tokyo and Chiba, so arrive early for a good spot.

Artwork by Japanese manga artist Takeshi Obata

©Yumi Hotta,Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA ©Tsugumi Ohba ・ Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA

Obata Takeshi – Never Complete

See the original artwork from the personal archive of Takeshi Obata, the legendary artist behind popular manga series including Hikaru no GoDeath Note and Bakuman.

Rock in Japan Fes 2019

Escape Tokyo’s heat and head north to Ibaraki for the biggest J-pop and J-rock festival this summer, with a lineup including Amelie, Super Beaver, The Oral Cigarettes and much more.

Image via Itabashi Hanabi Taikai

Itabashi Fireworks Festival 2019

In addition to 90 minutes of non-stop fireworks this festival also features a special 700m-long Niagara Falls fireworks wall, making it one of Tokyo’s must-see hanabi spectaculars.

Shibuya Scramble photo by Daido Moriyama

(C) Daido Moriyama photo foundation Courtesy of Akio Nagasawa Gallery

Shibuya / Daido Moriyama / Next Gen

This special collaboration between electronics giant Sony and Tokyu Corporation with photographer Daido Moriyama takes over Shibuya Station, showcasing the works of eight next generation young creatives.

Ballerinas perform the ballet Asteras at New National Theatre Tokyo

Ballet Asteras 2019 at NNTT

Staged since 2009, this ballet gala held at the Opera Place of the New National Theatre Tokyo aims to introduce Japanese dancers who are currently mainly performing outside of the country to a Japanese audience.

KT Tunstall @ WWW X

Since 2005 Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall’s debut album Eye to the Telescope has sold more than 4 million copies, and her hit single “Suddenly I See” was theme song for the movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Hiroo Uchimizu 2019

Uchimizu is the act of splashing water to cool down the streets. This event lets kids run through a gauntlet of water. Food stalls, crafts and games create a festival feeling.

Jonathan Katz is band leader for Tokyo Big Band

Tokyo Big Band Live @ Cotton Club

In addition to originals and jazz and pop standards, Tokyo Big Band’s repertoire includes traditional Japanese songs reworked from a Western jazz musician’s perspective. The first show from 16:30 admits children ages 6-18 at half price.

Painting by Japanese artist Emi Kuraya

Courtesy of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.

Emi Kuraya: In Search of a Lull

The Japanese artist’s latest solo exhibition displays a series of girls painted on canvas, with each piece born from dark feelings and experiences, and representing the light hiding inside the darkness.