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Monday, July 29, 2013

Sumida Fireworks Festival 2013 in Tokyo


The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is a Tokyo tradition that takes place every July in Japan's capital.

This year for the first time in the five years that we have witnessed the fireworks festival first-hand, the Sumida Fireworks Festival was sadly cut short by bad weather.

Partly cloudy skies all day Saturday did not seem to bode ill for the Sumida Fireworks Festival, as the cloud was high, and there were large patches of blue sky showing above Tokyo all day.

The Sumida Fireworks Festival got underway on time, at 7.30pm, with media helicopters hovering overhead for aerial footage, the Metropolitan Highway 6 that runs alongside the Sumida River closed to traffic, and the crowds of thousands milling along Kuramae Bridge, as well as the bridges north and south of it.

It was therefore with a sense of incredulity that heavy rain began about 20 minutes into the display, and grew heavier and heavier, quickly developing into a thunderstorm, with cloud so low that it completely obscured the Tokyo Skytree.

There was nothing for it but to cancel the Sumida Fireworks Festival. The helicopters quickly quit as the cloud lowered, and the festive, yukata-clad crowds quickly dispersed in a sea of umbrellas (or not, for the optimists in there) amid the pelting rain, bolts of lightning, and rumble of thunder.

We went inside and switched on the TV, to find that commentary on the Sumida Fireworks Festival outside had switched to replays of last year's Sumida Fireworks Festival 2012.

Then, perversely, almost on the dot of 8.30 p.m., when the Sumida Fireworks Festival 2013 had been due to end, the thunderstorm lifted, the rain stopped, the cloud dispersed, and before long it was back to a clear, pleasant summer evening in Tokyo.

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