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Japan’s Fiery Toyohashi Gion Festival

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A spectacular festival of handheld fireworks that dates back more than 350 years
In central Japan, near Mikawa Bay, the Toyohashi Gion Festival—during which local men set off large handheld fireworks as part of a Shinto ritual—has taken place annually for more than 350 years. According to the AFP photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba, “Every year, each male member of the shrine makes his own set of tezutsu hanabi from bamboo covered by straw ropes with a loaded gun and metal powder.” The festival brings together participants from several nearby towns, and this year Yasuyoshi Chiba visited Toyokawa and Toyohashi to photograph some of the spectacular scenes.

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