Japanese festival's fiery tradition

If there had been a public service message to accompany this event in central Japan's Toyohashi over the weekend, it would have been this: Don't try this at home.

Participants in the festival made their own handheld fireworks, called tezutsu hanabi, which they then lit up as part of a 400-year-old tradition.

Dressed in special fireproof cotton quilted jackets, the fireworks masters risked burns as their handheld cannon shot flames and sparks up to 10m high in the air.

The device comprises a hollowed-out bamboo tube wrapped in rope. The tube, which is about 80cm tall and 15cm wide, is then packed with 1.5 to 3kg of gunpowder.

These bamboo cannon were used as a means of communication between different castles during wartime.

To cap off the night, the festival's grand finale saw several huge cannon firing off fireworks one after the other as thousands of spectators cheered.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2018, with the headline 'Japanese festival's fiery tradition'. Print Edition | Subscribe