Hi No Umi Festival

Last weekend was Beppu’s biggest summer festival – the Hi No Umi (translating roughly to ‘sea of fire’) Festival. It takes place every year at the end of July, and has festival stands selling food and toys, music and dance performances, and the main event – fireworks!

Since this was one of the biggest events of the year in Beppu, I decided I wanted to translate and make English versions of the ticket information poster, the map and the event schedule so that Beppu’s numerous foreign exchange students and residents could also enjoy the festival. I print screened the images from the event website, painted out the Japanese in Photoshop and repainted the backgrounds, then added the English on top, along with a hand-drawn English logo. Doing all of this was actually really fun, since I always loved doing creative things.

On the Friday and Saturday, there was a beer garden outside the station, where you could buy alcohol and snacks, as well as a night market with stalls selling local specialties (like the popular Nakatsu Karaage) toys for children, and festival favourites like candyfloss and candy apples. There were also areas where you could watch a duck race, hold chicks, scoop goldfish, and try taiko (traditional drums)! There were also stage performances of yosakoi (an energetic traditional group dance), singing, rock music and hula dancing, and a place where you could borrow yukata (cotton kimono) to wear around the festival.

On Sunday, there was a large group folk dance, a haunted house set in an actual temple and designed by the monks themselves, and the fireworks show! Since they do English announcements at the fireworks show, this year I was asked to do it, which was a bit nervewracking. I stumbled over my words a couple of times but I managed to do the announcements okay, with the encouragement of the friendly Japanese MC and the staff. I didn’t go on stage or anything, but because I was in the sound tent I got a wonderful view of the fireworks!

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If you’re in Beppu next Summer, I definitely recommend checking out this great local festival! And thank you to all those who came to it this year!


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