Goldfish Lantern Festival – Enjoy a Feast of Adorable Lanterns in Yamaguchi
I would like to introduce you “Kanmon Kaikyo Fireworks Festival”（関門海峡花火大会）or Asia Port Festival in Kanmon, which is held during Obon time annually. Kanmon Kaikyo is a strait between Honshu and Kyushu islands. The name “Kan mon” (関門） originates from the names of two cities on opposite sides of the strait and takes one character from each name. “Kan” (関） stands for the city of Shimonoseki (下関）, which is a city on the Honshu island in Yamaguchi Prefecture. “門” stands for the city of Moji (門司）, in Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyushu island.
Both Shimonoseki and Moji are important ports especially to access Honshu and Kyushu. You can cross Kanmon Kaikyo strait, not only by ships but also by trains including Shinkansen Line. You can cross the strait even by car or walk through a tunnel.
Fireworks festival at Kanmon Kaikyo started in 1985 for the people, who returned to the hometown for Obon vacation. Obon is one of the most important Japanese traditions. People believe that their ancestor’s spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon. For this reason, it is a significant family gathering time, as many people return to their hometowns to pray together with their extended family for their ancestors’ spirit to return.
During Obon, Japanese people are cleaning their houses and are placing a variety of food offerings such as vegetables and fruits to the spirits of their ancestors in front of a Buddhist altar.
Chochin – lanterns and arrangements of flowers are usually placed by the altar as another offering. On the first day of Obon, Chochin lanterns are lit inside houses. Also, people bring the lanterns to their family’s grave sites to invite their ancestor’s spirits back home. On the last day, families assist in returning their ancestor’s souls to the grave, by hanging the Chochin lanterns, decorated with the family crest to guide the spirits to their eternal resting place. This process is called Okuri-Bon. During the Obon time, the smell of Senko – incense sticks fills Japanese houses and cemeteries which creates a charming but very mysterious atmosphere.
Asia Port Festival in Kanmon started in 1985, and both prefectures host the event from different islands. 15,000 splendid fireworks are launched from both sides of the strait. This festival attracts more than a million spectators every year. However, only from 1988, Moji side joined the celebration along with Shimonoseki. The fireworks which consist of skyrockets and set-piece fireworks make one of the most eminent fireworks displays in Japan. I am pretty sure that the contrast between continuously launched fireworks and a night view of 10 million dollars will impress you.
At the opening part, you can see the Sea Image Fireworks with sounds. Next will be single fireworks and continuous fireworks. One of the distinctive features of this popular display is Underwater Fireworks. These fireworks have a shape of a semicircle And form a beautiful fire arch on the surface of the ocean. You can enjoy the beautiful reflection on the water surface a well.
However, the highlight of this fireworks festival is approximately 100 shakudama fireworks. These are big fireworks which can reach 450 meters in diameter in the night sky. The shakudama fireworks are launched from Shimonoseki and Moji sides.
Date and Time：The festival take place annually during Obon in August. For example, in 2018 it will be on August 13 (Monday) from 19:40 to 20:40.
Arukaport 1, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi-ken
・Kaikyo Yume Tower
3-3-1, Buzenda-Cho, Shimonoseki-shi
6-1, Karato-Cho, Shimonoseki-shi
5-50, Karato-Cho, Shimonoseki-shi
Moji-ko, port, Moji West Coast Filled Ground Area
Nishi-kaigan Umetatechi, Moji-Ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka-ken
TEL： 093-331-8781 （Fireworks Committee, Moji）
15-20 minutes on foot from JR Shimonoseki station
5 minutes on foot from JR Moji-ko station
Kanmon Kaikyo Fireworks Festival or Asia Port Festival in Kanmon is one of the largest and most popular fireworks festivals in Japan. For sure it is the most popular one in Yamaguchi Prefecture. This is a unique festival where you can see the fireworks that take off from small boats from two different islands and create an unforgettable scenery in the night sky over the Kanmon straight! Don`t miss your chance to see it if you are in Yamaguchi or Fukuoka in Audust.
If you would like to attend this festival with local guides, or explore the region and discover something that you won`t be able to find in a guidebook, please click on the banner below!
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