Table Speech

All For the Sake of a Flash of Beauty

June 20, 2018

Mr. Yoichi Nomura
CEO, Nomura Fireworks Industry Corp.

 I would like to open my speech by sharing the video images of Omagari National Fireworks Competition where our team won the Prime Minister’s Award, followed by a TV commercial for beer where I appeared. I hope you enjoy the two fireworks of the highest quality we had made for the Competition, a shell diameter of 30 centimeters that reach the altitude of 300 meters, as well as a two-and-a-half-minute Star Mine fireworks show “The Pulsation of Light” accompanied by Beethoven Symphony No. 5. I enjoyed the TV commercial shooting as I could set off 1,000 fireworks and still get some fee. But then, the drawback was I had to drink about 10 cans of beer before getting an OK from the director.

 The Omagari Competition is challenging because you must come up with completely new ideas each year to become a winner. Immediately after each competition, we spend the whole year working on inspiring innovation.

 Looking back on my career as a fourth-generation pyrotechnician, I must say our company had poor techniques in the beginning and the fireworks were inferior in color and shape. I resolved myself to conduct research at the age of 25. Together with my father, we set off many fireworks every week and devoted ourselves to compile data and calculate the best composite mixture. It took me 20 years to win the first prize at the competition. I got highly motivated, worked even harder and became a regular winner.

 The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is held every July and our company will again enter the competition this year. The Festival dates back to 1733 when the 8th Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune launched fireworks to mourn the victims of famine and plague and to drive away diseases. There were only 20 fireworks back then, but today we launch as many as 20,000 fireworks. To become a winner, you must be creative and full of ideas. The first work that made us the winner was themed on a meteor shower. Our second prize-winning work expressed the waxing and waning of the moon. To be successful in the fireworks industry, you must excel in pyrotechnics as well as have superior presentation skills and imagination.

 Music plays an important role and we try to choose familiar music from a wide range of genres including classical music, jazz, rock, pops and movie themes. We create a story with an introduction, development, turn and conclusion and carefully calculate the timing to launch fireworks. We also spend much time giving a title to the work, interpreting what the story and music try to present. For example, we gave the work with the musical film theme “My Fair Lady” the title “Magnificent Ball in the Night Sky”. I must say sensitivity means a lot to pyrotechnicians.

 Looking back on history, fireworks were first enjoyed by the famed Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1612 and then gained popularity among feudal lords. Aichi and Shizuoka Prefectures attracted artillerists who started to manufacture fireworks. By the 1620s and 1630s, pinwheel and shooting-star fireworks became popular among common people but they were not colorful and simple in shape. It was only in the late Edo period when the well-known chrysanthemum-shaped fireworks were developed and colorful fireworks were introduced only after the Meiji period.

 Today, Japanese fireworks are highly evaluated around the world. An International Symposium on Fireworks held last year in Omagari attracted a number of buyers from many countries. We received so many orders, including from Russia, Ethiopia, U.S.A. and France, but it is almost impossible to export them as maritime transportation is the only way. Fireworks constitute a part of tourism resources, together with Japanese food and anime (animated cartoon), so I hope to disseminate information in an appealing way to boost inbound tourism to Japan.

 The Sumida River Fireworks Festival will be next month. We will work hard to become a winner again. We also strive to make a new record and become the winner three years in a row for the Omagari Competition. I must admit we had a hard time coming up with a creative idea this year but we will do our best. I always try to have good relationships with people in the fireworks business to improve pyrotechnics. I have learned that I get wonderful ideas by casually chatting with my peers and I can improve myself through friendly competition. I will work hard to elevate myself to new heights and make fireworks, the Japanese traditional culture, attractive to people around the world. I hope you come and enjoy the firework festivals in Sumida River, Odaiba area and many other places.