Igniting Handheld Fireworks at Summer Festivals in Japan
For more photos and videos of the handheld fireworks, browse the 手筒花火 hashtag.
Brave men of central Japan ignite handheld fireworks, bringing exciting showers of flames to local summer fire festivals. These cylindrical, handheld pyrotechnics called tezutsu-hanabi (手筒花火) originated in Toyohashi during the Edo Period (1603-1868) and continue in modern-day Japan with events such as the 19th annual Fire Festival (炎の祭典) this Saturday. To make these fireworks, craftsmen stuff black powder into bamboo trunks casted with thick ropes. Once lit, the cylinders spray sparks of fire until the explosives finish with a loud blast.
Shinto festivals traditionally used fireworks to protect people from evil spirits and bad fortune, and they now make up an essential summertime activity in Japan. The handheld fireworks are still crafted to present as offerings to local shrines until they are fired on festival day. Only a handful of summer events in central Japan feature this type of firework, and the thrilling displays of men inside downpours of sparks offer local and visiting Instagrammers a chance to capture some of the most spectacular moments of the summer.