Big Bouquets Of Fire Flowers

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SUMMERTIME! In the land where fireworks are more like giant flaming bunches of posies than boisterous, wham-bam, shock & awe, that’s what hanabi really means in Japanese: fire flowers. A summertime treat accompanied by those other traditional favorites, squid-on-a-stick & beer, the first time I saw a Japanese fireworks display, I was struck dumb with amazement. Not only did they shoot off a mind-boggling grand finale-like muchness for over an hour, the colors and shapes were like nothing I’d ever seen before.

The colors went way beyond red, white, blue and green. More like crimson, teal, ultramarine, chartreuse and gold

The colors went way beyond red, white & blue. More like crimson, teal, ultramarine, chartreuse and gold

And the shapes! This one was a ringer for an imperial chrysanthemum

And the shapes! This one was a ringer for an imperial chrysanthemum

And this one (sorry for the shaky camera) is a cat with sparkly whiskers

And this one (sorry for the shaky camera) is unmistakably a cat with sparkly whiskers

The show these are from was a tiny one at a lake at the foot of Mt. Fuji. It didn't have the usual simultaneous monster display, so I've composited a few different shots here so you can see the range of colors!

The show these are from was a tiny one at a lake at the foot of Mt. Fuji, and while it was very pretty to see the reflection of each firecracker in the lake, they weren’t shooting off the usual simultaneous monster display. I’ve composited a few different shots here so you can see the range of colors!

Jonelle Patrick writes mysteries set in Tokyo.

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A Japanese pop star is swept away in the tsunami following a devastating earthquake, and her fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning. In the wake of the disaster, Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, but…read more