David Chart's Japan Diary

August 8th 2004

Fireworks Fireworks at the display.

I was tempted to say that this week has been uneventful, but on reflection that simply isn't true. I just haven't been off to any exotic parts (well, more exotic than where I live, anyway). Quite a lot has happened.

The first big thing happened on Tuesday. I found out that The Black Monks of Glastonbury, one of my books, has been nominated for an ENny award for Best Non-d20 Adventure. The ENnies are a major set of role-playing awards, so being nominated is a considerable honour. Being nominated in two consecutive years, for different products, is absolutely great. I have no idea whether I have even a chance of winning, but I'm looking forward to the result announcement, in a couple of weeks.

Fireworks Fireworks at the display.

The second event was on Thursday, when we got the results of our test back. I dropped one mark on the listening comprehension, which seemed to be about standard for the class, and got just under 90% (108 out of 121) on the written test. I'm not sure how that compared to the class average, though. This tells me two things. First, listening comprehension is no longer my weak point. Second, revising for these tests is a waste of time. Once again, due to pressures of work, I did no revision.

The third event was on Friday. I finally finished my work on Ars Magica 5th Edition. Sheila is currently proofreading it for me, out of the goodness of her heart (really, and I'm very grateful for said goodness), and then I will turn it over to Atlas for layout. I've been working on this pretty much constantly for about two years, so while I'm very pleased with the final product, I'll also be very grateful to hand it on to someone else and not have to worry about it any more.

Fireworks and Lightning Fireworks and Lightning, very very frightening. (OK, not really.)

The final event was last night: Okazaki's Fireworks Display.


I went with Hang, who wore a yukata (a light, simple kimono -- if you think you've seen a Japanese woman in a kimono, the chances are very good that you've actually seen her in a yukata), and very nice she looked too. I'd say that about half of the women were wearing yukatas, which made me think that yukatas are the female equivalent of black tie: it's almost impossible for a woman to look bad in them. Maybe we should campaign for formal dress to standardise on black tie for men and yukata for women.

Fireworks Fireworks at the display.

The fireworks themselves were the most impressive thing, though. We got to a decent viewing spot about twenty minutes after they started, but that was OK, because there were still two hours to go. Also, despite having a decent spot, I think we could only see about a quarter of the fireworks. We couldn't see the low ones at all, and about half the high ones were behind a tree.

Any randomly-selected twenty minute section of the bit of the display I could see was better than the Cambridge Bonfire Night fireworks. The climax was incredible. The whole display was helped by a co-operative lightning storm, which didn't rain on us, but did provide spectacular bolts of lightning between the clouds, timed nicely with the fireworks. (That's a slight exaggeration, but one amazing flash was perfectly timed at the end of a bout of rockets.)

Apparently the Okazaki display is one of the top ten in Japan, because most of Japan's fireworks companies are here, and I was told that the fireworks used cost about $1,000,000. That sounds plausible. As well as many, many varieties of standard rockets, there were rockets that exploded in rings, and one that exploded into a five-pointed star inscribed in a circle. I think I'm spoiled for western displays for life, now.

This weekend is a bit of a break, because I've finished ArM5. Today will be shopping, laundry, and similar admin stuff. I might even get round to tidying my bedroom a bit -- heaven knows it could do with it.