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Japanese fireworks group plans nationwide displays to lift spirits during pandemic

A nonprofit group from northern Japan is planning nationwide fireworks displays aimed at lifting spirits during the coronavirus pandemic.

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By HANA KUSUMOTO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 4, 2020

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TOKYO — A group of fireworks aficionados in northern Japan is planning synchronized, nationwide fireworks displays this summer to show appreciation and support for fireworks makers and to lift people’s spirits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit organization, whose name translates to “the association that loves Japanese fireworks,” is from Daisen city, Akita prefecture. Daisen is the home of the Omagari fireworks festival, one of the largest fireworks festivals in Japan.

As of Monday, 81 firework companies from 29 prefectures had signed onto the nationwide event, according to the group’s crowdfunding website. The group asked firework makers that take part in the Omagari fireworks to participate.

The firework makers will either set off fireworks in their prefecture or send them to Omagari for the display there or do both, the organization’s secretary, Tomohiro Mogamiya, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“We have been cheered up by fireworks,” the group’s website says. “It’s our turn to cheer up fireworks manufacturers and the fireworks industry by shooting off fireworks.”

The group is soliciting donations to pay for the event through the crowdfunding site Fan Akita. It is accepting donations through July 10.

A date for the nationwide event has not yet been set. The group originally planned not to publicize the nationwide fireworks displays to avoid crowds gathering.

However, that plan presented potential problems, such as scared pets and inconvenience for the hearing impaired. The group may change its approach but is still working out the details, Mogamiya said.

The organization is made up of individuals and groups, including firework makers, and aims to deepen understanding of the Japanese tradition and art of fireworks, according to the group’s website.

Many firework makers have lost business opportunities this year as many fireworks displays and festivals are being canceled to prevent large gatherings that could lead to further spread of the coronavirus. The Japanese government is still discouraging large gatherings.

Also, the manufacturers are allowed to store only a certain number of fireworks, so if they do not use them, they can’t make new ones, Mogamiya said.

“We wanted to create an opportunity [for firework makers] to display fireworks,” Mogamiya said.

The group also hopes to cheer up health care providers and those who are sticking with an inconvenient lifestyle that comes with restricting the virus’ spread.

“It’s probably the first time for people to experience summer without fireworks,” Mogamiya said. “We hope everyone will cheer up by watching the fireworks.”

A synchronized fireworks display was held nationwide Monday, organized by another group to cheer people up while they fight the coronavirus. The fireworks were shot off in about 200 places nationwide by 160 fireworks makers, according to the Asahi newspaper. In Tokyo, the displays were set off by the Tama River in Chofu city, the report said.

kusumoto.hana@stripes.com
Twitter: @HanaKusumoto

A nonprofit group from northern Japan is planning nationwide fireworks displays aimed at lifting spirits during the coronavirus pandemic.
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