Nagaoka Hanabi, August 2, 2019

I remember my father in-law driving me around the streets of Nagaoka. He explained the streets were wider than those narrow lanes in many old villages and towns that were spared from the bombing raids of WWII. He, and his wife-to-be, were school-aged children during World War Two. On the night of August 1st, 1945, Nagaoka was bombed heavily from the air. Leaflets at been dropped in the preceding weeks, warning the city to evacuate because of an impending air raid. Nonetheless, I read that over two-hundred school aged children died that night, and well over a thousand adults. Sixty to eighty percent of the city was destroyed.

Now every year, in the first days of August, many travel to witness a magnificent fireworks display along the banks of the Shinano River that passes through the city. The fireworks celebrate another year of peace, and remind us of those lost to war. Like all our lives, the fireworks are bright and brilliant, and shine for the briefest of time.

We enjoyed a hot evening this year and took the bullet train from Niigata to Nagaoka. I learned what it is like to be a grain of sand passing through an hourglass.