Sunday, August 08, 2004


Last night after a day of extreme thunderstorms crisscrossing our location, in the evening the Lake was still ringed with a noble procession of tall pink thunderheads waiting their turns to perform as we went to cap it all off in Katata (the lakeside town south of us, where Ukimido is) at the Katata Fireworks Festival, held conveniently between the rains with the calm Lake as foreground and backed by the sleek silver/gray/black dynamic cloud shapes beyond which distant lightning flashed in the layered darkness.

The fireworks as always were eyefilling and heartstopping, the Japanese really know their stuff when it comes to skyblossoms, but the special thing was the way they introduced each major fire"work": "And now, a firework that was first 'performed' last year at the Lake Suwa Firework Exhibition, and the firework was shot off, spiraled upward to invisibility and then did its amazing stuff with light and fire and color and motion and trajectory up there in front of the lightning, and everyone went "AWE..." You had to see it.

Then, "And now a special performance of 'The Peacock:'" and from across the Lake a series of fireworks was set off on the ground that when at last finished was cheered by the many thousands of onlookers on both shores, many of them bright in their own summer kimono. All of this amidst a long variety of firework performances with all kinds of work-of-art names. With lightning as backup, it was a one-of-a-kind performance. Free, too. They do it every year.

Tonight is the BIG fireworks festival at the south end of the Lake in Otsu, the old capital of Japan, where Shikibu wrote some chapters of The Tale of Genji.


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