The awe-inspiring Lake Ashi Summer Festival Week in the mountain onsen town of Hakone is happening this year from July 31 to August 5. As it’s held in conjunction with Hakone Shrine’s annual Reitaisai festival, you can expect a series of events as well as some jaw-dropping fireworks. Due to the ongoing pandemic, however, only the fireworks displays are open to the public. But that’s perfectly fine as the fireworks are the highlight that we all want to see. So mark these dates in your calendar.
Kosui Matsuri Fireworks Festival
About 2,000 shells of fireworks will be launched at 8pm from Moto-Hakone Bay.
1265 Taisai Hoshuku Fireworks Festival
This fireworks display is held to commemorate the 1,265th anniversary of Hakone Shrine. Around 2,000 shells of fireworks will be set off from Moto-Hakone Bay at 8pm.
August 2 & 3
Hakone-en Summer Night Festival
The Hakone-en Resort Complex – a 30-minute walk from Moto-Hakone area – is celebrating summer with fireworks at 8pm. About 2,000 shells will be launched from Hakone-en Bay, with star mines and Niagara sparklers synchronised to music. Visitors can submit well-wishes and messages, which will be read out during the fireworks show. You’ll also find food stalls selling typical festival grub.
Kojiri Ryujin Festival Fireworks
About 2,000 shells of fireworks will be launched at 8pm from Kojiri Bay on the northern shore of Lake Ashi.
Torii-yaki Festival Fireworks
This is arguably the best fireworks show of the season in Hakone. Two six-metre-tall torii gates will be set up in the lake and set on fire – an old tradition dedicated to the dragon god – with colourful explosions of fireworks happening above. You can expect about 2,000 shells, all shooting off from Hakone Bay at 8pm.
To get the best close-up views of the fireworks, you might want to consider boarding Lake Ashi’s iconic pirate ships for a mesmerising cruise under sparkling sky. It’s bound to be very popular, so we recommend booking your tickets in advance (¥2,610, primary school students ¥660).
Wait, there’s more. On August 16 there’s another summer event taking place around Hakone’s Gora Station. You can enjoy a brass band performance at 2.45pm, a lion dance performance at 3pm and a Buddhist ceremony by the Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple at 3.30pm. The highlight, however, is the fireworks and omoji-yaki fire ceremony at 7.30pm.
Omoji-yaki is a ceremonial bonfire to comfort and send off the spirits on the final night of O-Bon, an annual Buddhist event in August for commemorating one's ancestors. The Japanese kanji character ‘大’ will be set on fire on a mountainside.
Preparations for this momentous event start two months in advance, where 250 bundles of dried bamboo will be used to create the character ‘大’. And it’s a huge one, with a width of 180 metres, just so the character can be seen clearly from the foot of the mountain.
Note that in case of stormy weather, the event will be moved to August 21.
For more information, see the event website (in Japanese only).
Want to be the first to know what’s cool in Tokyo? Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates from Tokyo and Japan.