Photo: あめまん on Pakutaso

High Entertainment in Matsumoto City – Hata Fireworks Festival

Hata Town, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture – In the quiet town of Hata, known for their watermelons, there is an annual event in which the usual peaceful streets turn into a bustling crowd of both cars and pedestrians alike. Children, teens, and adults can be seen crowding the Hata Sensuda Sports Park. Tents with the aroma of delicious festival foods wafting from them can also be seen from a distance as people order treats from them, forming long lines that snake towards the parking lot. Everyone here is excitedly awaiting the event of the night – the Hata Fireworks Festival.

Things to Do

Similar to other fireworks festivals in Japan, the Hata Fireworks Festival has ‘yatai’ or food booths that sell a variety of things. Foods visitors to Japan may be accustomed to may include, ‘Poteto Furai’ or as the picture above displays, ‘Furi-furi Poteto’, which are basically French Fries. They also often have ‘Gyuu-kushi’ which is literally just beef on a stick, or a shish kebab without any vegetables. ‘Kaki-gōri’ means shaved ice, and ‘Wata-ame’ is cotton candy. Other known foods that they may serve are fresh fruits, sodas, grilled chicken, popcorn, crepes, kebabs, and churros. Summer festivals, like the Hata Fireworks Festival are also known to sell cucumbers, as the Japanese summer is quite hot, and this refreshing vegetable can help keep you hydrated.

Japanese foods that visitors may also want to try at these festivals, however, can range from the well-known ‘Yakitori’, ‘Takoyaki’, ‘Yakisoba’, or ‘Okonomiyaki’ to the not-so-widely-known outside of Japan, ‘Taiyaki’, ‘Hashimaki’, or ‘Osakayaki’. For those who don’t know, ‘Taiyaki’ is basically a sweet snack with a cake-like texture and Japanese red bean filling in the shape of a red snapper. Occasionally, some stands, will have other fillings, like custard, cream, or cream cheese, but most will have the red bean filling. ‘Hashimaki’ is very similar to an okonomiyaki. It’s just wrapped up on a pair of chopsticks. Lastly, ‘Osakayaki’ is like a cake version of okonomiyaki with a nice gooey egg in the middle. Of course, while there are variations to these foods, and their availability will vary at each festival, you can be sure that you won’t have trouble with food options at the Hata Fireworks Festival.

Other tents scattered around the festival may be selling goods, like masks, toys, or light up accessories. Games are also commonly seen at these festivals. These games can range from simple to difficult with the easiest being the lucky present game, where you pull a string and whatever present that it’s attached to is what you get to keep. In this game, there are larger prizes and smaller prizes, so what you get is purely up to luck. A more difficult game is one known as ‘Kingyo Sukui’. In this game, which is highly recommended you only play if you are intending to keep the goldfish that you win as your prize, you will be given a paddle with a rice paper surface. You have to use this tool to catch moving goldfish and scoop them into a cup or bucket. This may seem easy, but when the rice paper touches the water, it causes the paper to rip much easier than you’d think, so despite one’s efforts, one may find this challenge to be extremely difficult.

The Main Attraction

There are many different kinds of fireworks that can be seen at the Hata Fireworks Festival. For example, in addition to the usual explosions of color in the sky, there are fireworks in the shapes of hearts, flowers, dragonflies, and watermelons. There’s even a special segment with all green fireworks in support of the Yamaga Soccer Team.

What makes the Hata Fireworks Festival special, however, isn’t what kind of fireworks can be seen there, it’s how big the fireworks appear to be.

At the Hata Fireworks Festival, you literally sit just a few feet away from the place where they launch the fireworks. This allows you to be in a position where you can look straight up to see the fireworks exploding right above your head. It’s an amazing site to behold and highly recommended. It is also advised that you bring an umbrella though, as you may need some protection from the debris of the fireworks falling from the sky.

Further Information

There is parking available, however, it gets very crowded, so it’s highly suggested that you go by train.

How to get there: If going by train, you can take the Matsumoto Dentetsu to either Samizo Station or Moriguchi Station. Upon arriving, walk towards the Azusa River and eventually you should come across the Hata Sansuda Sports Park.

Japanese Address: 〒390-1401 長野県松本市波田三溝 波田 230-1

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