You can’t say that you have experienced the Japanese summer until you see one of Japan’s astonishing fireworks festivals! Fireworks in Japan are an essential summer tradition with a long history and are often said to be some of the best shows in the entire world. This is not surprising, as fireworks festivals here are generally huge events lasting for one and a half to two hours in length featuring thousands and thousands of individual fireworks that burst into all shapes, colors, and sizes. The biggest events will even attract hundreds of thousands of people who often come wearing colorful traditional summer attire called yukata, a kind of light kimono.
Nagano has its own share of amazing fireworks events that occur throughout the summer. They are usually held in wide-open spaces like lakes and large rivers, so you can enjoy the shows with a view unobstructed by tall buildings, bright city lights, and powerlines. Check out our most recommended fireworks festivals below—we even offer some exclusive tours that will make your experience all the more unforgettable!
Shinshu Ueda Fireworks Festival in Ueda
Held in Ueda along the Chikuma River, this is one of the larger fireworks shows in Nagano Prefecture with around 10,000 individual fireworks launched into the summer sky. The fireworks display is actually a collaboration between three different firework makers, so you can see some unique fireworks during this exciting event.
The show can be viewed from either side of the river from atop the riverbanks where you won’t have to worry about any buildings blocking the view. You will also find a plethora of food stalls where you can grab all sorts of Japanese festival favorites like takoyaki, yakisoba, yakitori, okonomiyaki, and more—the choices are endless!
This year, the Shinshu Ueda Fireworks Festival is being held on Monday, August 5th from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
Azumino Fireworks Festival
This spectacular festival is held in the picturesque countryside town of Azumino and is Nagano Prefecture’s 3rd largest fireworks show (and the biggest in the Matsumoto area!). Be prepared to “ooh” and “aww” at the hour-and-a-half-long display of 12,000 jaw-dropping fireworks that light up the summer sky in front of the silhouette of the Japan Alps. This year’s date is Wednesday, August 15th from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
The fireworks burst into bright colors along to popular Japanese music hits, both traditional and new, and the entire event is bustling with locals clad in summer kimono (yukata), giving this event an extra festive feel. Along the river where the fireworks are shot up, you will find a huge array of food vendors where you can grab up a variety of mouthwatering Japanese festival eats to indulge in as you watch the show.
Although the Azumino Fireworks Festival is one of the biggest in Nagano, it is put on primarily for the local residents, making it the perfect chance to experience a Japanese summer tradition on a grand scale while still being able to get a first-hand look at the local culture. Note that to get seats at the “official” festival site, you do need to secure tickets in advance or you can book our special one-day tour for exclusive seats.
Our exclusive 1-Day Azumino Fireworks Festival and Snow Monkey Tour includes not only reserved seats near all the delicious food stalls at the fireworks event, but also a visit to the world-famous Snow Monkey Park and Azumino’s popular Daio Wasabi Farm! Learn more and book a seat on the tour page.
All-Japan New Fireworks Festival in Suwa
The All-Japan New Fireworks Festival is held right on Lake Suwa. This event has an interesting aspect—it doubles as a national contest for new kinds of fireworks. Elite pyrotechnicians (25 of them!) from all around Japan participate to show off their newest creations at this show. Although the actual number of fireworks launched (approximately 8,000) is somewhat less than the other festivals, you will get to see some very unique fireworks that you would not be able to see elsewhere. The fact that these beautiful explosions get reflected on the lake’s surface makes for an even more stunning spectacle!
Another great thing about this particular festival is that it doesn’t get nearly as crowded as some of the others, especially Lake Suwa’s largest fireworks event which is notorious for its congestion-causing crowds. This year, the All-Japan New Fireworks Festival will be held on Saturday, September 7th from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
Nagano Ebisu-ko Fireworks Festival in Nagano City
The Ebisu-ko Fireworks Festival is Nagano’s biggest fireworks event. With more than 15,000 individual fireworks launched into the sky, this show attracts over 400,000 visitors every year. On top of that, the entire event takes place over a surprising two-hour span! Be prepared to have your eyes glued to the sky the entire night as it explodes in a stunning spectacle of pyrotechnics!
Unlike the other festivals which are held in the summer, this show is put on during the autumn in late November (this year, November 23rd). That being said, you will definitely want to bundle up and stay warm, as it gets quite chilly during the night.
The fireworks are launched along Nagano’s Sai River so you can view the event without being unobstructed by tall buildings. The dazzling colors and lights of each firework are reflected across the water, adding another dimension to this amazing show. The river is also lined with hundreds of tasty food stalls so you can enjoy the best of Japanese festival food and snacks as you enjoy the fireworks.
For an extra special experience of this unforgettable event, join our once-a-year Ebisu-ko Fireworks Festival & Snow Monkey Tour that will not only get you premium reserved seats at the show, but you’ll also get to see the world-famous snow monkeys and indulge in Japan’s enticing food culture with a meal at the wonderful Hotaru-tei restaurant followed by some sake tasting! We will take care of all the transportation so you won’t have to worry about trying to navigate to the fireworks festival and fighting through the huge crowds just to find a decent viewing spot. Sign up for the tour here!