This fireworks festival sees the launch of many large spherical fireworks, including the “Shoyonshakudama,” once recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as being the largest of its kind in the world. Katakai is known as the origin of the sanshakudama firework, which has a slightly smaller diameter that the yonshakudama (1 shaku = approx. 30cm). Its firework-making history dates back to the Edo period and in 1985 it successfully launched the yonshakudama, which was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records. These fireworks are therefore known by name and in reality as the largest of their kind in the world.The three great fireworks festivals of Echigo are known as “Nagaoka by the river,” “Kashiwazaki by the sea,” and “Katakai in the mountains.” The fireworks of Katakai with their enormous booming roar and a massive glowing flower that appears almost like a meteor shower falling from the mountains are truly a breath-taking sight, even when compared to other festivals!Originally the Katakai Festival started life as the autumn festival of Asahara Shrine. The fireworks were launched as an offering to the shrine and were offered for a variety of reasons by both individuals and companies, including in celebration of a child’s birthday, celebrating someone’s wedding, or as a prayer for family safety, health, or business success. In the town of Katakai a number of traditional events take place from the morning onwards on festival day, including “tamaokuri” or the offering of a firework to the shrine, and “tsutsubiki” or prayers for the safe and successful launch of the firework. The festival venue is always busy and filled with excitement ahead of the launch of these impressive fireworks.From the seating on the north side of Asahara Shrine you can see the enormous fireworks soar into the sky and explode right in front of your eyes, including the impressive shakudama and starmine types.