Shiga: Fireworks through Gaps of Fence

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visitors watch fireworks through gaps in a fence in Otsu on the night of Aug. 8.

OTSU — Organizers of the Lake Biwa Fireworks Festival set up a fence surrounding the venue as a precaution against accidents involving passersby, so people peered at the fireworks through gaps in the fence.

A larger crowd than usual was anticipated because the festival had been canceled since 2020 due to the pandemic. To prevent incidents like stampedes, the festival organizers downsized the free viewing space, while the paid area was expanded from about 40,000 seats to 50,000. In addition, they put up a roughly 4-meter-high fence snaking about 2 kilometers along the lakeside road and asked non-paying visitors to refrain from attending.

Many people, however, wanted to see the Aug. 8 fireworks. When the show began at 7:30 p.m., many pressed up against the fence and used their smartphones to take photos of the fireworks through gaps in the fence.

About 10,000 fireworks were launched. According to the festival committee, the turnout was about 300,000 visitors, 50,000 fewer than during the 2019 pre-pandemic event.

A 45-year-old man viewed the fireworks with his family through an opening in the fence.

“I understand the safety measures, but not being able to see the reflection of the fireworks on the surface of the lake was disappointing,” he said.