Imaginatorium Shop

Jigsaw puzzles from Japan

Fireworks

Feature page for August 2008

Fireworks in Japan have a history of nearly five hundred years, and the summer without them would now be unthinkable. There are large displays across the country, some of them famous - the Sumida-gawa fireworks in Tokyo, or the Nagaoka firework festival near Niigata on the west coast. At the same time, sparklers and other hand-held fireworks continue to delight children of all ages...

This page celebrates the issue by Epoch in summer 2007 of a new series of fireworks photo puzzles (all in small pieces) – and more issued for summer 2008. A slightly unusual subject for a puzzle, this offers some new challenges. I did the 450-piece Nagaoka fireworks puzzle, and it's not the easiest, the colourful streaks of light tending to turn into an abstract mass. But there are extra clues, too: since each line is the path of a body in free fall, it's generally possible to see at a glance which way up a piece goes. (If you want to get technical, each line is a parabola, curving downwards.)

On this page: Photo puzzles - Fireworks in art

Photo puzzles

Firework collection
© Epoch

2542: Firework collection

Japan has a long tradition of large-scale firework displays, and here is a collection of the many different types.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 2542 pieces; 75 x 50 cm (30" x 20")
Code: E76013 (76-013 on box)
Retail price ¥3900 (approx. US$34.21 €32.77 £27.86)
Shipping from ¥1200 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$10.53 €10.08 £8.57)
Buy this puzzle Add to basket
All about ordering (please read first)
Nagaoka fireworks
© Beverly
Position map

1000: Nagaoka fireworks

Nagaoka, near Niigata on the west coast, is famous for its annual summer firework display on the banks of Shinanogawa, the longest river in Japan. This makes an interestingly different puzzle!

* This is a glow-in-the-dark puzzle.

In stock
A Beverly puzzle: 1000 pieces; 72 x 49 cm (28" x 19")
Code: B31470 (31-470 on box)
Retail price ¥3300 (approx. US$28.95 €27.73 £23.57)
Shipping from ¥1100 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$9.65 €9.24 £7.86)
Buy this puzzle Add to basket
All about ordering (please read first)

Fireworks in art

Phoenix reborn
© Seiji Fujishiro / Horipro

1000: Phoenix reborn (Fujishiro)

A phoenix emerges from a dazzling firework display, while a lone dwarf piper stands in a boat on the river. A beautiful example of Fujishiro's work, but the large black areas will make it quite a challenge.

Born in 1924, Fujishiro has had a long and productive career as an illustrator - producing many children's books, and creating his own brand of fantasy along the way. From an early involvement with shadow puppetry, he developed his own unique style: he calls these kage-e (literally "shadow pictures"), but his is a backlit world not of black and white (or grey), but of wonderful translucent colours, apparently made mostly from tissue paper.

He is still active at the age of 80, and his work has appeared all over the world, most recently (February 2005) in New York and Washington.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 75 x 50 cm (30" x 20")
Code: A10697 (1000-697 on box)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$31.58 €30.25 £25.71)
Shipping from ¥1200 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$10.53 €10.08 £8.57)
Buy this puzzle Add to basket
All about ordering (please read first)
Snoopy fireworks show
© Peanuts Worldwide

1000: Snoopy fireworks show (Peanuts)

Venice is the setting for this fabulous firework display watched by Snoopy and friends...

For fifty years Charles M Schulz (1922-2000) drew the Peanuts cartoon strip, featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang, who have become some of the best-known characters all over the world.

* This is a glow-in-the-dark puzzle.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1000 pieces; 75 x 50 cm (30" x 20")
Code: E12049 (12-049 on box)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$31.58 €30.25 £25.71)
Shipping from ¥1200 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$10.53 €10.08 £8.57)
Buy this puzzle Add to basket
All about ordering (please read first)
Nagaoka fireworks
© Seibi-sha
Position map

1000: Nagaoka fireworks (Yamashita)

Fireworks across the river in Nagaoka, near Niigata on the west coast. Yamashita's family moved here from Tokyo when he was two, after the Great Kanto Earthquake.

The composition of this picture is very simple: we see the fireworks reflected in the river, while people watch from the river bank and from boats. Full of interesting textures, this is a real "puzzler's" puzzle.

Born in 1922 in Tokyo, Yamashita had a troubled childhood: - after a bullying incident at school involving a knife, he was classified as mentally handicapped, and placed in an institution. His genius for creating harie (pasted paper pictures) was soon realised, though, and eventually he featured in many exhibitions across Japan. He remained an eccentric: from 1940 to 1954 he roamed the country wearing only an undershirt (it is said), earning himself the moniker of "The naked artist wanderer". Although he travelled widely seeking material, including an extended tour of Europe in 1961, it seems he did not work in the field, but would return to his studio and create images entirely from memory. He died in 1971 at the early age of 49.

His story has been dramatised a number of times, in the 1956 film known as "The naked general" and later television series.

Not available
Discontinued 2016
A Yanoman puzzle: 1000 pieces; 75 x 50 cm (30" x 20")
Code: Y101261 (10-1261 on box)
Retail price ¥3000
Aside (particularly) to UK readers
"Remember, remember, the fifth of November..."

In my childhood, in England, fireworks were associated with one particular dark cold winter night, Guy Fawkes night, and at first summer fireworks seemed incongruous, like spending Christmas Day on the beach. But of course, even if summer evenings in England were warm enough, they would still be too light! In most of Japan, July evenings are dark by half past seven.

----