Monday, August 2, 2010

hana bi!!!

I always feel a twinge of disappointment when have to be in another country during the 4th of July, as I miss the relaxing revelry and the fireworks that go along with celebrating our country’s independence. This year was no exception, but I was comforted by the fact that Japan is known for hana bi, or fireworks shows, which happen throughout the summer in various locations.

No offense to the folks at home, but Japan’s take on fireworks kind of beats the pants off any such show I’ve seen anywhere else. Rather than a half-hour spectacle that starts with the 1812 Overture and builds to a grand finale, Japanese hana bi can go on for quite a while and tend to go full-blast all the way, pausing for short reloading intermissions throughout – a different narrative approach to the whole thing.

The hour-and-a-half-long Yokohama fireworks show last night was apparently one of the more spectacular in Japan this summer, and we inadvertently found ourselves with the perfect seats at BankART, where we were already spending some time in the studio showing around visitors and friends. The streets were packed with traffic and people dressed up in celebratory yukata. I don’t even want to imagine the crowded subway situation, but up at BankART we just pulled a few chairs out onto the back deck (which is a pretty excellent place to hang out anyway) and enjoyed a tremendous and stress-free view of the fireworks.

Some kimono-clad girls in front of us took a lot of cell-phone photos of each other and a few of the fireworks, too, and I put my own camera through the paces to try and catch a few good shots. Our fellow artists passed around plates of takoyaki and baked potatoes, cups of beer, and other festival snacks and we all had a pretty nice night of it.

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