All About Japan

How Fireworks in Japan Were Used for Epidemics

Festivals Life in Japan Stay Home

May 28 is Fireworks Day in Japan. This day in 1733, over 280 years ago, marked the beginning of Japan’s oldest fireworks festival along the Sumidagawa River. Although it was later moved to mid-July, the festival was originally organized by Shogun Yoshimune Tokugawa as a way of warding off bad luck and epidemics. Japan had endured great suffering that year from starvation, largely due to an epidemic of cholera. And it’s believed that the fireworks festival was intended to memorialize victims and pray for an end to the epidemic.

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