I live and work around the northeast bank of Lake Shinji, right by where it feeds into the Ohashi River (which then continues into Nakaumi by cutting through the middle of Matsue). Here’s a bit of trivia: way, way back when, Lake Shinji wasn’t a lake at all, but part of the Hii River! The ancient Izumo flatlands have quite a history of (and culture based around) flooding out there on the west side of the peninsula. Thankfully I haven’t heard of any recent floods!
The boardwalk around that area is a popular spot for joggers, or picnickers like me and my coworkers. Though it’s usually a quiet place to sit (or stretch) and listen to the waves, watch the Shijimi clam fishers at work, or observe the wildlife, last weekend every bit of dry land was covered with people and food stalls. Major roads were blocked off to make way for foot traffic, and only the luckiest few were able to squeeze their way into a lakeside seat (or be lucky enough to have friends who grabbed a spot, as was my case–getting to said friends amoung the crowd was the hard part).
What was the big draw? Matsue’s Suigosai! Otherwise known as the “let’s set off 9000 fireworks over Lake Shinji” festival.
To be more precise, they set off 3000 fireworks for half an hour on Saturday night, and then 6000 fireworks for a full hour display on Sunday night. Fireworks are nothing new to me and I can’t say I’m an enthusiast or anything, but it was probably the best display I’ve ever been to. Besides being so close and watching the reflections on the surface of the lake and the remaining sparks disappear into the water, it was fun being in such a densely packed crowd and listening to the children shout out the shapes that appeared in the sky: “Heart! Smiley face! Watermelon! Umbrella! Circle!!”
At one point, the fireworks seemed to spill off the boat and the sky momentarily went dark. “Was that a dud?” everyone started asking their neighbors, until we noticed softly twinkling lights of various colors floating on the lake. Nice touch!
Seeing as I only had my phone to take pictures with, I’m not aiming to impress anyone with firework photos, and these don’t show the usual height of the fireworks, just the ones close to the water surface. Photos can’t do justice to being there in person at bustling and loud events, after all (cheap excuses, sure–but I was enjoying myself in the moment!).
That said, on less crowded summer nights, the board walk is a perfect setting for lighting small fireworks and playing with handheld sparklers (just hopefully not in as much wind as we did them in).
Fireworks are nice and all, but when it comes down to it, I prefer starlight. Being at sea level with so much moisture in the air, it surprises me how many stars I’m able to see here. The night we all went to light fireworks, a couple of us were lucky enough to notice a shooting star, too.