Fireworks in tsunami-hit town in northeast Japan brighten up locals and fireworks


OTSUCHI, Iwate – A fireworks festival was held in this northeastern Japanese city on October 23 as part of an ongoing effort to lift the spirits of survivors of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 in eastern Japan, as well as pyrotechnicians who were hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Some 1,300 fireworks have graced the night sky over Funakoshi Bay, near Kirikiri District, titled “Yume Hanabi”, which translates to “Dream Fireworks”. Messages from residents who donated for the exhibit were read at the event by Aina Dote, a third-year student at Kamaishi Prefectural High School in Iwate. Two of them were for people who couldn’t be there.

“I can only meet you in my dreams, but please watch over us,” one of the messages said, while the other said, “Even though you have left our hometown, I support you. under the same sky. ”

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami claimed the lives of around 100 people in Kirikiri district. The fireworks display was first launched in 2014 with funds raised through garbage collection and other means by students at Daisen Heiwa Municipal High School in neighboring Akita Prefecture, who visited the people affected by disasters in their temporary housing soon after the earthquake.

One of the tutors of one of the students was a pyrotechnician in Daisen, nationally famous for the Omagari fireworks competition, which gave impetus to the Kirikiri festival. The fireworks display took place in Kirikiri district for five consecutive years.

Last summer, numerous fireworks were canceled across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the young business leaders of the district learned about the fate of the pyrotechnicians and organized a fireworks festival in recognition of the support for the victims.

Also this year, business owners learned from Yoshikazu Konno, 57, president of a fireworks company in Daisen, that his sales had fallen by more than 80%. They then mobilized to collect 2 million yen (about $ 17,600) in donations from some 580 households – 90% of the households in the district – and were successful in organizing the event.

Marin Daino, a third-year student in the Kirikiri Gakuen middle school division, said he was thrilled with the festival being held amid a series of cancellations of school events and other gatherings due to the pandemic. “Lots of friends have come, it’s like a reunion!” she said excitedly.

The head of the festival’s executive committee, Hikaru Haga, 47, president of a stone-selling company, noted the correct answer, saying, “We started this for the memories of children in our hometown. has become an opportunity to pass on disaster stories across regions. ”

(Japanese original from Takuhide Nakao, local Sanriku office)

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