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The Battle of the Bands: The Musical Fireworks of Summer

Happy Summer! In Japan, summer means so many things like summer vacation, beach, shaved ice, humidity, the heat, the AC, yukata, bon odori, and chilled noodles. However, one of the most iconic things about summer is fireworks or 花火 (hanabi). Each summer, cities, and towns hold numerous firework festivals across Japan to celebrate summer. But, what is the history of fireworks in Japan, and how do they celebrate watching them? Also, since this post is a Battle of the Bands, which songs did I pick that mentions “fireworks” in them? Let’s read on to find out!

The (Brief) History of Fireworks

It is believed that fireworks came to Japan in the early 17th Century (or 1600s) when Tokugawa Ieyasu received some fireworks from King James I of England. Tokugawa received them as a gift as he enjoyed fireworks.[1] However, the public didn’t get to see fireworks until 1733 at the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. This festival started as a way to remember those who died due to starvation and death during the Kyōhō famine of 1732. They were originally called Ryōgoku Kawabiraki (両国川開き) and served as a way to celebrate life, mourn the dead, and provided entertainment for everyone. [2]

However, fireworks can be some sort of charm to ward off evil spirits. You see, a lot of firework festivals are held during the Obon holidays (August 13-15). Obon is a celebration to honor the spirits of deceased ancestors. as these spirits come back to visit. As the celebration ends, the spirits are sent off as part of the okuribi ritual. During this time, fireworks are displayed to ward off any evil spirits and protect those ancestral spirits. [3]

Today, fireworks in Japan are admirable for their unique beauty and the amazing craftsmanship that went into making them. Fireworks have been admired for their colors since the late 18th century when potassium chlorae was added to the mix.[4] There are even different shapes that exploded in the night sky: stars, hearts, and waterfalls. There are even competitions to see which manufacturer created the best fireworks.

By the way, You should check out this post by JNTO about how fireworks are made in Japan. Also, check out this mixed media presentation about Japanese fireworks by NHK.

Setting Off These Fireworks For This Battle of the Bands

In honor of firework festivals (which have been postponed or canceled due to COVID and/or Olympics), this Battle of the Bands is all about fireworks. I choose three songs that envision the sense of these unique fiery displays in the sky or even the little sparklers that people can hold. The songs are “Hanabi” by aiko, “Senkou Hanabi” by Morning Musume., and “H・A・N・A・B・I ~Kimi ga Ita Natsu~” by ZONE. Listen to each song and tell me which one is your favorite! Let me know in the comments! Enjoy!


“Hanabi” by aiko (1999)

Do you ever fall asleep? Every moment in the sheets
Thinking of you
Dreams are terribly sad if you wake up with dreams
Fireworks don’t go up today
The words that I have swore many times in my chest flew away
“I will never forget 1 mm,”…
Everything that has a haze and shadow and no shape
I can’t entertain

A winged angel with triangular eyes hears the news of love
Stop on your right arm and blindfold
“If you’re tired, why don’t you stop?”

**Hanging on the summer constellation and looking down on the fireworks from above
I love you so much
Hanging on the summer constellation and looking down on the fireworks from above**
I shed tears and put out the fire

All the toes on the torn sandstone
What remains is a piece of memory
When the wind you want to catch a little pass under your feet
I want to give you a lot of laughter

The winged angel with a triangular ear hears a sigh of love
Pointing at me with round eyes
“If you fall once or twice”

%% Hanging on the summer constellation and looking down on the fireworks from above
I certainly like it
Hanging on the summer constellation and looking down on the fireworks from above
I touched the last embers

The red and green chrysanthemum petals
Only one, but one
“If you’re tired, stop…”
Fireworks won’t go away Tears won’t wither

Repeat **

Repeat &&

Hanging on the summer constellation…

Bye Bye Bye…
Bye Bye Bye…

(Credits: https://myjpop.jspinyin.net/lyrics-aiko-%E8%8A%B1%E7%81%AB-%E6%AD%8C%E8%A9%9E/)

“Senkou Hanabi” (Sparklers) by Morning Musume. (1999)

The season has changed in no time at all
I’m already on my second diary (writing about this romance)

Stop pretending to kiss me
Every time we stop at a red light
It’s embarrassing

The fire reflected in your eyes
From the sparkler, we’re holding between us
Is really beautiful

You promised me that
The sparklers in our hearts
Would never go out
Forever

Before we knew it we were kissing
(Tonight) I drew a heart in my diary (once again)

Stop looking at
All the other girls who walk past
I’m getting jealous

What colour is
The fire reflected in my eyes
From the sparkler, we’re holding between us?

The sparklers in our hearts
It may not be flashy
But you lit them
Forever

The fire reflected in your eyes
From the sparkler, we’re holding between us
Is really beautiful

You promised me that
The sparklers in our hearts
Would never go out
Forever

(Source: https://www.nautiljon.com/paroles/morning+musume.-21/senkou+hanabi.html)

“H・A・N・A・B・I ~Kimi ga Ita Natsu~” (The Summer That You Were Here) by ZONE (2004)

The summer that you were here

Looking at the sunflower blooming in the night sky, the shapes of the short-lived and scattering stars
Now sends tears down my cheeks from my eyes
I won’t forget that summer…

I arrived early at the stone steps of the Shinto shrine, where we met
At the sound of “clatter clatter”, I know right away that you were coming

We haven’t seen each other in a while, show me that smile again
When tomorrow comes, maybe… Yes, I’ll be in a dream…

>> The summer that you were here
Beneath the night sky, hand in hand, we ran through the gravel road
We could hear in the distance the voices of fireworks that sadly sounded out
The eternal summer
The feeling of “I don’t like this anymore”
My form could be seen behind you
It was all reflected in a falling drop like a shooting star
I won’t forget that summer…

From then on, that place suddenly called out to me
Many times, when I close my eyes

I listened carefully, and I shouldn’t have been able to hear that sound
But I definitely did in my heart

Chorus >>

The summer that you were there, the summer with you…

Looking at the sunflower blooming in the night sky, the shapes of the short-lived and scattering stars
Now sends tears down my cheeks from my eyes

The summer that you were here
Beneath the night sky, hand in hand, we ran through the gravel road
We could hear in the distance the voices of fireworks that sadly sounded out
The eternal summer
The feeling of “I don’t like this anymore”
My form could be seen behind you
It was all reflected in a falling drop like a shooting star
I won’t forget that summer…

To go back to that summer once again…

The summer that you were here, the eternal summer
The summer that you were here, the eternal summer

(Credit: https://www.nautiljon.com/paroles/zone/h%E3%83%BBa%E3%83%BBn%E3%83%BBa%E3%83%BBb%E3%83%BBi+~kimi+ga+ita+natsu~.html)


Who Will It Be?

Now it is your turn to vote! Who will be the victor? Tell me in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

I am also part of the “Battle of the Bands” blog collection. After you vote, please visit the other battles:

🌞 Visit TOSSING IT OUT by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit MIKE’S RAMBLINGS’by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit CURIOUS AS A CATHY by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING by clicking HERE
🌞 Visit JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit ANGELS BARK by clicking HERE.
🌞 Visit THE DOGLADY’S DEN by clicking HERE
🌞 Visit STMoC PRESENTS BATTLE OF THE BANDS by clicking HERE.


The Results Are In!

Here are the results for “Battle of the Bands: A Song For the Olympics“.

The winner is…

“One Moment In Time” by Whitney Houston


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The Battle of the Bands: The Musical Fireworks of Summer

References

[1] https://matcha-jp.com/en/6129

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumidagawa_Fireworks_Festival

[3] https://www.nilsjapan.com/fukuoka-times/japanese-traditions-towards-hanabi/

[4] https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/the-mark-of-beauty%EF%BC%9Ahanabi-fireworks-nhk-educational/owICu0UIb4GKIA?hl=en

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Neely Moldovan

    I really liked all of these! I had no idea about the history!

  2. Ceci Rey

    Love the history of the fireworks in Japan! 👓🍕🏨

  3. Stephanie

    My family loves watching fireworks! We typically only see them on New Year’s Eve and on July 4th. I didn’t know there were songs about them, though, other than the Katy Perry song!

  4. Kim C

    Such a great blog to read. I’ve learned a lot from this blog. Thanks for keep sharing

  5. Barbie

    Love the beat of Hanabi by Aiko. It’s sound new to me, so lovely. Thank you for sharing this wonderful song.❤️

  6. Jasmine Martin

    One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston is one of my favorite songs. This was definitely a great song choice!

  7. Star Harford

    Lovely poem and the fireworks history was interesting. Its cool that they are setting off fireworks this year.

  8. Dominique

    I really liked the last song a lot. It made me feel sentimental about my younger days!

    1. Barbie

      I love to see fireworks. It’s so beautiful but I don’t know the story behind it. Thank you for this information. I love the song of Hanabi.

  9. Aiko is one of my fave singers in Japan. I remember when I was there, I love celebrating Hanabi with friends. Happy memories.

  10. Areil Always

    I’ve always wanted to visit Japan. This makes me want to go even more!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing so much details about this festival celebration, learnt so much about this different cultures. Cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  12. Renata

    I wasn’t aware of the background of fireworks. I love all these songs – they have something very unique to them.

  13. Cynthia Nicoletti

    How nice what a wonderful event for all the music and music lovers. I am sure it was a great time.

  14. Mufidah

    Yet another great post! Keep it up

  15. Clarice

    Great songs here! I truly miss watching live battle of the bands. I hope this pandemic is over soon so, we can enjoy the fireworks and music again like how we used to.

  16. Renata

    I had never heard that fireworks were thought to ward of evil spirits

  17. Kenneth

    A lot of beliefs about fireworks especially with us asians 🙂 but these songs are great!

  18. Khushboo

    This is so interesting! I love being introduced to new musicians and artists! It was lovely reading the history of fireworks too

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