The huge, densely packed crowd for the Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks
The huge, densely packed crowd for the Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks06-Sep-2014 18:44, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 1600
File this under First World Problems…
We’ve enjoyed almost all of our outings here in Fukuoka, many of which I haven’t had a chance to write about yet (I will catch up eventually!). But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. A few weeks ago we went to the Fukuoka Higashi-ku fireworks display, which sounded great:
Kashiihama Beach is the perfect setting to watch 7,700 fireworks illuminate the sea and the night sky. Held annually on the first Saturday of September, the Higashi-ku Fireworks Festival boasts a breathtaking location, a great food stall area with many different vendors, and original t-shirts and towels on sale to commemorate the event! 100,000 attended last year’s event.
The reality was something else, however. There was a special bus route for the event, with buses leaving every 20 minutes from Tenjin, but there was a long line for them that wrapped around the block. We were clever and got on a regular city bus instead, so we avoided the line, but what we expected would be a 20 minute ride took well over an hour, due to a huge traffic jam approaching the beach. So we missed our planned dinner with my Japanese tutor and her family. I was also sick to my stomach, as lunch hadn’t gone down well.
When we finally arrived, the crowd was overwhelming. Unlike the wonderful Ohori park fireworks, where the police were mostly standing around with nothing to do, the police here were very busy shepherding the crowd. For example, there were more than a dozen of them at the main intersection in front of the beach, with these large, wide straps stretched between them to form lanes at the crosswalks. They also had megaphones to loudly, but of course politely, encourage everyone to keep moving along correctly.
The beach was across the street from the Aeon mall, which was also mobbed. We went in to get some food, as the boys were starving. They voted for KFC. I wasn’t going to eat, so I hung out with the Colonel Sanders statue. Interestingly, the sign he’s wearing in the picture below is showing where in Japan KFC is currently getting all its chicken from. There was a scare recently over bad chicken from China, so they are reassuring people that the chicken is not imported.
When we finally got out of the mall, the fireworks had already started. After navigating for a while through the most densely packed crowd I’d ever been in, we found a place to sit with an obstructed view. But at that point I had lost interest in the fireworks – just sitting down felt like a small victory. When it was over, we planned to wait for the crowd to thin out, but it started to rain, so we stayed very close together and joined the zombie shuffle down the street towards the subway. It was a long walk to get there, but we didn’t want to repeat our experience with the traffic on the bus.
It’s a festival that needs re-thinking. It’s become too popular for its location. It’s hard to transport a lot of people there around the same time, and the narrow strip of land that’s available for it, between the mall and the beach, simply can’t accommodate the crowd.
With Colonel Sanders at the Aeon Mall
With Colonel Sanders at the Aeon Mall06-Sep-2014 18:34, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
The sign explains where in Japan the chicken comes from, as there was a recent news story about bad chicken from China
The sign explains where in Japan the chicken comes from, as there was a recent news story about bad chicken from China06-Sep-2014 18:34, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 400
Cool motorcyle, spotted at the Aeon Mall
Cool motorcyle, spotted at the Aeon Mall06-Sep-2014 18:42, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 2.7, 4.3mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400
The Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks
The Fukuoka Higashi-ku Fireworks06-Sep-2014 19:26, Canon Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS, 4.5, 9.324mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 1250