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Jigsaw puzzles from Japan
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:
- Fireworks in art
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.
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.
© Iwao Kataoka
Sumidagawa is the great river through Tokyo that is the site of this annual summer firework display.
© Yonehara Keitaro
The great torii, or Shinto ceremonial gateway of Itsukushima shrine stands vividly silhouetted against a firework display. Completed in 1875, this torii is somewhat unusually sited in the tidal part of the bay, and is famous as one of the traditional "Three sights of Japan."
The famous firework display in Nagaoka, on the banks of Shinanogawa, the longest river in Japan...
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.