The full moon, birds, and construction towers, viewed from my room at the Kintai Inn on the Marine Base at Iwakuni.

August 2 was a full moon. The window of my room at the Kinati Inn on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is perfectly positioned to capture views lit by the rising sun. And thus, perfectly situated to snap some shots of the full moon. At first I was cursing the unnatural-looking construction towers in the foreground. But now that I look again, I like the effect.

Moon and birds. Or bats?

Iwakuni Castle glows in the morning sun. Another great view from my window.

August 4 was a huge festival at the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni. There would be the biggest fireworks show of the year, apparently. I walked over there in the evening, using the small concrete dam I often walk along, as a shortcut. Families were set up with picnics and umbrellas along the dam, waiting for the show. Kids were swimming in the river and catching fish with nets.

When I got closer to the bridge area, I saw that it was teeming with people. I was not in a people mood that night. Often, I am not in a people mood. I turned right around, though the fireworks had begun, and went back to the dam.

View of the fireworks over Kintai Bridge, from the concrete dam. Iwakuni Castle, lit up at night, sends a long column of white into the water.

I didn’t have a tripod, so I had to set my camera on the rocks in front of me. I didn’t use the timer, just took a bunch of shots trying to keep the camera still. Some of them turned out ok.

My unsteady hand makes an interesting photo with the lights of the double bridge.

Green sparks reflect off the water

Red smoke drifts into the air

But more than fireworks photos, what I experienced this night was the warm quiet of happy families on a summer night. People spoke in murmurs, with little chuckling laughs. It was hot, so I took off my shoes and sat with my feet in the Nishiki River. No one paid any attention to me, partly due to the politeness of the Japanese custom, partly due to anonymity of darkness, partly because others enjoyed the peace and quiet as much as I did. We were perfectly content not to extend ourselves outside our fuzzy dark night bubbles of serenity. The booming of the explosions was out of sync with the cascades of sparkling lights, due to the distance. The cicadas droned their ceaseless instruments. I could have laid back onto the concrete – still holding the warmth of the afternoon – and fallen asleep.

Families (and their bikes) sit along the dam, watching the fireworks.