The Akagawa Firework Festival
By far the largest attraction in terms of numbers for Tsuruoka City, the annual Akagawa Firework Festival first started in 1991 and has since become known as one of the top 10 firework shows in all of Japan.
Over the course of and hour and a half, tens of thousands of fireworks are fired along the Mogami River where they create dazzling displays that synch with music that is played from large speakers across the large festival grounds.
Sitting up close to the spectacle, you will see your entire field of vision filled with vibrant displays and feel the sheer awe send shivers through you even on the warm summer nights of August.
Unlike the other major firework festivals in Japan, The Akagawa Firework Festival is one of the easiest festivals to see and this event has not been plagued by ticket scalpers who cause events to sell out immediately when tickets go on sale.
Update: This festival now sells out nearly instantly upon going live. It is also plagued by ticket scalpers.
Visitors should also be sure to book their hotels well in advance as well.
If you cannot find lodging in Tsuruoka City then you can also find lots of hotels in the neighboring city of Sakata. There is a train that you can ride from Tsuruoka Station after the festival. However keep in mind that you may have a very hard time getting from the festival grounds to the train station in time due to the extreme congestion that occurs when everyone tries to leave the grounds at once.
Update: the 2020 Akagawa Firework Festival has been cancelled due to the ongoing situation with Covid19. As of now, the organizers hope to host this festival next summer.
Other Yamagata Firework Festivals
There are many other fireworks held in Yamagata throughout the year which are also well worth the visit.
This small city is heavily strained by the massive influx of over 70k people each year. Parking is usually located a 20-30 minute walk from the actual firework grounds.
Getting tickets to this event has become progressively harder each year as it skyrockets in popularity. Be sure to purchase your tickets and lodging well in advance!
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve tickets, but keep in mind that we may not be able to book them if they are sold out.
Tickets must be purchased in advance.
You can however see this for free by watching it from the rice fields of Mt. Haguro or the surrounding fields around Tsuruoka City.
The river trail where you can watch the show.