MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — More than 250,000 people flooded the narrow streets of Iwakuni for the 43rd annual Nishikigawa River Water Festival near the Kintai Bridge Aug. 7.
During the summer months of July and August, river festivals and fireworks are frequently held in Japan.
The Nishikigawa River Water Festival is one of the most popular firework festivals in the Yamaguchi prefecture.
“I came here last year and it is amazing,” said Lance Cpl. Steven Barletti, aircraft recovery specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “I had so much fun.”
The festival was an all day event and included day and night activities.
During the day, the Kintai Bridge area buzzed as crowds of locals and tourists roamed around the Iwakuni Castle and indulged in the local Japanese culture.
“It’s awesome to see the Japanese culture,” said Pfc. Michael Hicks, legal clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “Everyone gets together and interacts with no confrontation at all.”
According to Hicks, the gathering of people and foot-traffic was overwhelming.
“There were a lot of people and not a lot of space,” said Hicks. “It was just jammed packed.”
At approximately 10 a.m., the festivities began, which included a children’s treasure hunt.
The Miss Iwakuni Beauty Pageant was held, during which a large group of young Japanese girls walked onto a stage dressed in Kimono to be judged by the attending crowd.
As the day continued, festivities included a Japanese Taiko drum performance and other forms of visual and musical entertainment.
Booths were set up all along the river bank, cluttered with concession stands selling toys, food and candy.
Highlights included beef on a stick, snow cones, cotton candy and traditional Japanese delicacies.
“The food was just a lot different from the States,” said Hicks. “Here in Japan, you have to venture out and try things like octopus and squid.”
As the sky got darker, locals and tourists gathered around the historic, five-arched Kintai Bridge for the annual fireworks display.
The night sky burst with approximately 6,000 fireworks, which started at approximately 8 p.m. and ended at 9:30 p.m.
The historical Iwakuni Castle could also be seen illuminated atop of Mount Yoko as the colorful fireworks exploded in the foreground and created colorful reflections over the water flowing beneath the bridge.
The sound of the cracking and explosions could be heard from miles away.
As the explosions of the fireworks ended, attendees streamed off excitedly into the darkness of the night.
Originally published: Marines.mil