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BBQ, fireworks and an earthquake under the Tamagawa bridge

For many, summer in Japan means BBQs and do-it-yourself fireworks at the coast or along a river.  So when I received an invitation to a BBQ on the banks of the Tamagawa, I didn’t want to miss out.  This BBQ had an unexpected additional feature – a fairly large earthquake.

Hanabi

The Tama River (Tamagawa) forms the border between Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefectures.  Route 246 crosses the river at Futako Tamagawa, where there is a large railway station and retail area.  The BBQ ended up being held under the rail bridge that crosses the river, along with the BBQs of hundreds of others sheltering from a large and unexpected downpour (a guerrilla downpour?) that had come through late in the afternoon.

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This led to something of an only-in-Japan experience – a BBQ location on top of everyone else’s BBQ location, with the noise of overhead trains on the rail bridge muffling conversation every few minutes, and the sounds and colour of peoples’ random fireworks being let off all around as the sun set.

Letting off fireworks is fun, if done carefully.  In summer, packs of fireworks are available even in convenience stores.  I don’t know the names for all the various fireworks, but they range from the hand-held to the explosive ones that shoot pretty colours up into the sky – although nothing as big as you’d see at a professional sky show.

Under our bridge, I saw two ambulances arrive, presumably to take people away who had perhaps over-indulged.  There was a old foot-weary looking policeman who looked reluctant to have to speak to a bunch of university students about being careful with fireworks.

For the rest of us behaving ourselves, the scene was very colourful and frenetic with groups of people scattered all around the riverbanks letting off their fireworks.  Then, to add to the atmosphere, at about 8pm, an earthquake struck – no damage – but was clearly felt when we were standing around letting off fireworks.  I don’t think I’ve noticed an earthquake before without feeling the creaking and groaning of buildings to tell me that there’s one in progress.  This one was strong enough to notice just standing out in the open.

Bridge over the Tamagawa River at Futoko Tamagawa

2 Comments

  1. […] I reported in my previous post, I was outside at a BBQ when the Sunday evening quake hit, and was surprised to feel the ground […]

  2. […] I reported in my previous post, I was outside at a BBQ when the Sunday evening quake hit, and was surprised to feel the ground […]

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