Ayu Festival – Boom!!! Sagami River

This post shows our big night out on Saturday August 2, 2014 by the banks of the Sagami River, Atsugi, Kanagawa, Japan celebrating the Ayu summer festival. A great night out with awesome people

I had been tipped off about this night. From the top floor of the Amyu mall in downtown Hon-Atsugi, [see this blog from then] we looked out across the river in April 2014. Marcia advised that there is a festival to be had on that river. Fireworks. I absorbed this information with all the interest of a New Zealander heading into election year. To be honest, for all the same reasons, I could not conceptualise what success looked like. A drab day then, a river, criss-crossed with bridges – road and rail. Yay. Exciting. Look forward to it

The reality of the evening disappointed my historical perception and sarcastic disposition. We had, on the day of the festival, travelled back by train into town at 13:00 hours after viewing a house to maybe purchase. The train was packed with people dressed in traditional Japanese costume; mainly young men and women. They disembarked at Hon-Atsugi station, thronging into our town. Given we weren’t expected to meet up with the prodigious staff from the Japan-based Brazilian magazine Alternativa until 18:00 hours, I knew this was going to be a good night if people were pouring into town early afternoon

Beers were thermally protected from the hot August weather. Given the traffic congestion, we walked into town. As we hit Chuo [Central] park, a parallel party was going on. Music, food, lots of smiles. Here’s what we saw there


Prior to the arrival of the motivating workmates, the crowd and entertainment provided a prelude into the evening’s impact

We met with the crew. They had made the effort to dress nationally, so full credit to them. Looking stylish, looking really good

So, with the sun setting and the crowds building, the collective meandered at a glacial pace to find the source of fireworks. With every explosion in the sky, the flow would slow as all peered skywards, and then again would be moved along, by a typically empowered Japanese crowd-control, towards the source of colourful effusions in the sky

It was a real classic case of rolling in the deep

Fireworks, exploding to many ahhhhhhhhhhhhssss and other Japanese expletives. This is the best I could do on the night, but you get the idea. We managed to position ourselves near the source, enough to enjoy the pyrotechnics and just enjoy the mood of the crowd and the occasion

After the masses endured being yelled at close range by mega-phone yielding Japanese speaking officials – “don’t sit down, stand behind the barriers, keep moving” – the crowds headed back into town for sustenance. Still large numbers of people crowding the streets. Off to the numerous stalls lining the streets selling all manner of delicious staples of hot snacks and of course and rightly so, alcohol. The smoke and food-aroma infused streets surged with dawdlers and drinkers along with diners standing deep at the stalls patiently awaiting service. All very peaceful and patient as is the Japanese style. Here’s how it looked


The night ended with the ubiquitous beer in a restaurant in Hon-Atsugi, eyelids drooping, then the short walk home in the balmy air. It was great to have experienced the event after my winter trepidation, so thanks to all those who made it a great night, including me




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