Honolulu Festival’s Nagaoka fireworks

by Nov 30, 2019

I hope you will have, or had, the opportunity to view the Honolulu Festival’s Nagaoka fireworks presentation this year. There is a special significance to them, if you are not already aware.

Every year in Nagaoka, between August 1 – 3, an annual city festival is held. There are shrine parades and folk-dance processions, and there is food and sake and laughter and warmth.

And, for one evening the people of Nagaoka gather along the banks of the Shinano River to remember them; all those whose lives were lost in the fire storm that devastated the city on August 1, 1945.

It was at 10:30 at night, when the 125 B-29 bombers arrived over Nagaoka and dropped incendiary bombs that resulted in the fire storm that destroyed 80 percent of the city. 1,486 people died in the fires that night. Among those who died, 280 were school children or younger.

Now, each year, in remembrance of the lives that were lost that tragic night, the people of the city gather together and remember them, sadly, and joyously, as fireworks dance across the night sky.

When we visited Nagaoka City a few years ago, we were taken to a small second floor room in the War Damage Museum, filled with photographs. We were surrounded by their faces, imagining the lives they may have lived, and imagining the other lives that were tragically lost in cities and towns all around the world, as that war raged on and on.

Until, on Sunday morning, September 2, 1945, on that small area of teak deck where they gathered aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, when the dying was finally over.

Below are some of their faces.