Yokohama Sketches

Fireworks have always fascinated me. As a little boy living in Pacific Grove, California, my mother took me to informal fireworks displays along the beaches near our home. Of course, setting off fireworks on beaches have long since been banned. Who know? They might have even been banned sixty years ago.

I always wanted to set off firecrackers and light the fuses of rockets, just like my older brothers. “You’re only 5 years old, my dear,” my mother informed me in a crisp English accent, (an accent she maintained even until the final moment of her life) “I will not have you blow your hands away.”

Now I live in Yokohama safe and sound from maternal admonitions. Yet I have no more interest in setting off fireworks. However, I do enjoy watching firework displays. You can always count on the city of Yokohama to sponsor firework events for the citizens who are sweltering in the August heat. One such event took place last week on August 5, 2014. The event took place at Rinko Park (

I recently purchased a new camera — the Panasonic FZ100. I wanted to give it a trial run and take photos and videos of the fireworks in the evening. However, I did not go to Rinko Park and become entrapped among the thousands of spectators sitting in chairs or standing. No, I preferred to climb the steep road past Hongakuji Temple to reach a suitable spot high above nearby buildings to test out my new camera. Unfortunately, I encountered two major obstacles. One, two high-rise apartments near Rinko Park blocked an unobstructed view of the fireworks. Instead, they served as a frame within which the fireworks exploded. And two, my incompetence as a photographer coming to grips with a newly purchased camera. I took over 200 hundred photos. Regrettably only a handful turned out well. And even among them, two or three were blurred.

But I did capture with the video function the fireworks finale. A little blurry, but I’ll get it right with practice.

When the sparks of dying fireworks finally disappeared into the darkness within the frame of the high rise apartments, I could almost hear my mother tell me, “Put your sparkler into the bucket of water. We don’t want to burn our house down, do we?”

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