Tsuchiura Fireworks Event Stopped Early as Falling Debris Injures Ten
By Avi Landau
October 6, 2018
Despite forecasts of heavy winds and possible rain ( the affects of a huge typhoon now ravaging the Japan Sea side of Japan ) hundreds of thousands of people converged on Tsuchiura City ( Tsukuba’s neighbor to the east ) with the aim of taking in one of Japan’s premier pyrotechnical events – the Tsuchiura Fireworks Competition (this year – 2018 – was the 87th time it has been held. More than 50 of Japan`s fireworks factories from all over the country were scheduled to take part ).
I was also planning enjoy the show ( a spectacular display of state of the art fireworks – when weather is favorable ) from somewhere along the Tsuchiura-Gakuen Road near the launching point by the Sakura River.
The starting time was 6 PM, but we decided to be fashionably late, and set out at about 6:45. Heading towards our destination though, I noticed that something was not right. First there were no blasts to be heard. Neither was there any colorful glowing visible high in the sky to the east, as there usually would be. But what really suprisee me was all the traffic – moving in the wrong direction! And it wasn’t only cars, but bicycles and flashlight wielding pedestrians, as well, all heading towards Tsukuba.
So though it was not raining, I realized the event had ended early. But why?
Well, apparently 30 minutes into the competition, strong winds had knocked down some of the fireworks sending them into the crowd injuring ten people (with slight burns).
(For what the fireworks were like before the accident click here)
And if you are wondering why the event was not postponed given the liklihood of unclement weather. Well I`ve written about this problem before: The nearby Aeon Shopping more closes for occassion – and it cannot be asked to have more than one closed day – it would be too great of a financial burden.
To be continued. . .
A few days have passed, and I have been asking just about everyone I meet about their experience at this year`s firework competition – so I now have a much clearer picture of what went on.
About thirty minutes into the event, which had been going smoothly up to that point (and was being broadcast by NHK, as well) something happened. Some friends of mine sitting near the “launch site” told me that one the launching tubes used to fire the projectiles into the sky was blown over and the fireworks inside them fired horizontally (instead of vertically) and into the crowd. Miraculously, the injuries incurred were all slight and were treated by doctors who were on the scene. No ambulences were called.
After that though, the police insisted that until “safety was verified” (ANZEN KAKUNIN), no more fireworks be launched. Then, for a full hour, the hundreds of thousands of eople who had been watching, just sat there in the dark waiting for the next firework works to be launched. They never came. It was only at seven thirty that the cancellation was officially announced (though the people watching from afar could not hear it unless they had a radio).
Interestingly, while the actual fireworks stopped, the TV broadcast did not. They merely replayed the works that had already been launched (and perhaps those from other events, as well) until 8 PM. This was especially amusing (and confusing) for those who were watching (or just listening) from their homes – with the TV on. For the first thirty minutes they could see or hear what was going on both in real life and on the screen simultaneously. After thrity minutes, though, the fireworks were bursting on TV, while outside in the distance was only silent darkness.
The number of people inconvenienced by what happened is staggering (apparently more han 700,000 had come to watch from somewhere in the vicinity – many of them coming from afar or having taken a day off from work – and most of them having arrived many hours before the starting time so that they could find a good spot to view from.
To be continued…..