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Fireworks, With Feeling! Katsura-shima

This is Hizashi.
This is the third summer since the 2011 tsunami tragedy.
The Urato Archipelago in the Pacific off the Miyagi coast—
Katsura-shima is the hub island, each year hosting a summer festival with fireworks.

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It’s about 30 minutes by boat from Shiogama to get there.
On this day, the ferries were filled up! A lot of people with a lot of excitement are on board.

It’s a festival enjoyed by the islander locals and quite a few people who make the trip from the mainland every year.
After the land has subsided, to keep the dock from flooding at high tide there’s an artificial embankment.
Even with these obvious signs of the disaster, at the nearby square people are out enjoying themselves:
“We’ve got more people coming from the mainland than last year!” notes an excited local.

In the evening before the fireworks go up, there are taiko drum performances, Obon dance, singing, more dancing, games and more!

Stalls are out with goodies, and of course that includes shaved ice!

There they go! The fireworks have started! They’re really close!

The names of those who donated are read out with each launch, one by one.

The lights bloom in the night sky.

There was even a newlywed couple that had a launch for them, and the entire place broke out in applause!


The islanders themselves launch the rockets. Just for this day they go to the trouble of getting licensed!
From some Tōkyō students here for volunteering:
“This is the first time I’ve experienced such a heartfelt festival,” he said with a smile.

On this third Obon since the disaster, much has changed and people have drifted apart, but the hopes for recovery remain as one.
Each keeps his memories close, and works towards the new tomorrow he faces. For this, the night was an affirmation.
Even as the night ends, the light of these fireworks shines on for the islanders and the many who came to visit.
We’ll all meet here again next year.


Urato Archipelago




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