tourism

An Exclusive Experience at the Last Senko Hanabi Sparkler Maker in Kyushu

A Meditative Firework Experience:
Create Senko Hanabi at One of Japan’s Last Workshops (3hrs)

First dye the paper that will be used to wrap the gunpowder
After the coloring is finished, roll the gunpowder and paper into sparkers
A special workshop kit prepared by Tsutsui Fireworks
Like that of a human life, senko hanabi sparklers have a dreamy ephemerality
Gunpowder is mixed on the workshop grounds (due to safety reasons, guests cannot observe this process)

Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks Co. is located in Miyama, Fukuoka Prefecture. A fireworks workshop, it specializes in a type of Japanese sparkler called senko hanabi (lit. “incense fireworks”). Tsutsui Tokimasa is now one of only three workshops that still make senko hanabi in Japan. Due to the efforts and passion of the workshop’s third-generation owners, Ryota and Kyoko Tsutsui, the techniques of firework-making continue to live on. Through this program, learn directly from the craftspeople themselves about the carefully selected raw materials used by Tsutsui Tokimasa, along with the firework production process. Make your very own senko hanabi through a workshop that includes paper dyeing and gunpowder rolling. And in a unique darkroom space made specifically for fireworks testing, light senko hanabi and experience for yourself the fireworks’ sparkling beauty.

  • Learn about the raw materials and manufacturing process of sparklers
  • Explore how the characteristics and history of sparklers vary across regions, such as between eastern and western Japan
  • Create your very own sparkler designs by coloring the paper used to roll gunpowder
  • Guided by a professional craftsperson, learn the special techniques used for rolling paper sparklers
  • Light and enjoy the fireworks you made (or senko hanabi made by Tsutsui Fireworks)
  • Browse the showroom of Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks Co., where you can also purchase products
Ryota and Kyoko Tsutsui3rd-Generation Owners, Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks Co.
Ryota Tsutsui is from Miyama, Fukuoka Prefecture, and is the third generation owner of Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks Co., established in 1929. His wife Kyoko is from Kasuya-gun, Fukuoka Prefecture. The couple have been working in tandem on various initiatives to keep the tradition of domestic Japanese fireworks production alive. As a result of participating in the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s “Kyushu-Chikugo Genki Keikaku” project, the company renewed its packaging and product design — the brand now known across Japan.
Destination Info

Dangerous Processes, Delicate Skills

The black gunpowder used in senko hanabi is made from three materials: pine soot, sulfur, and potassium nitrite. As the manufacturing of fireworks is an extremely delicate and dangerous process, it is done entirely by hand in a thoroughly controlled environment. The blended gunpowder is then divided into 0.08 gram portions and rolled into paper. But if the amount differs even by 1%, the spark dispersion pattern will change; every aspect of the production process is precise down to the milligram. In order to prevent the gunpowder from exploding, no electricity is allowed in the workshop — all fireworks are made under natural light with no air conditioning or heating.

Honoring Local Materials, Passing on Fireworks Culture

Tsutsui Tokimasa is committed to using quality raw materials: such as the roots of pine trees from Miyazaki Prefecture that have been rested for over 30 years to make the main ingredient of gunpowder, pine soot, or growing in-house the increasingly hard to find long rice straw that forms the core of the Subo Tebotan traditional Japanese sparkler. Fireworks culture is also slowly disappearing, especially in urban areas with restrictions on fireworks use. In response, the Tsutsui family opened an inn for enjoying fireworks called Kawanoie, a riverside accommodation in Kuroki Town, Yame City. Through efforts such as these, Tsutsui Tokimasa continues to pass on Japanese fireworks culture to future generations.

Program Contents

Make a One-of-a-Kind Senko Hanabi

In this program, experience the two main steps of the senko hanabi production process, dyeing and rolling. The first step is to dye paper in various designs and colors, which will later be used to wrap the gunpowder. Once the coloring is completed, it’s time to put in the gunpowder and roll the paper into sparklers. Use a special tool that accurately measures the amount of gunpowder required down to the milligram, and then wrap and carefully twist the paper around the gunpowder. This part of the production process is where craftspeoples' skills shine, as the way in which the paper is rolled can change the way the senko hanabi’s sparks scatter once lit. Learn more about these techniques directly from expert craftspeople themselves, and make your very own original senko hanabi sparklers through this unique workshop.

Experience the Sparkling Beauty of Senko Hanabi

Tsutsui Tokimasa is equipped with a darkroom specially made for fireworks testing, and you can enjoy the senko hanabi you created through this program even during the daytime. Upon lighting the sparkler, the four stages of the senko hanabi’s burn has an ephemeral beauty that can be compared to life itself. For those who don't want to light the senko hanabi they made in the program, Tsutsui Tokimasa has also prepared senko hanabi made by the workshop for guests to enjoy in the darkroom. A complimentary firework carrying box from Tsutsui Tokimasa also makes senko hanabi a great gift. (Please note that for those visiting from abroad, fireworks are not permitted aboard most commercial aircrafts.)

Browse the Showroom and Specialty Shop

Tsutsui Tokimasa also makes a wide variety of fireworks in addition to senko hanabi sparklers. Its showroom and store is lined with these colorfully-designed creations, an exciting sight for children and adults alike. As the showroom also exhibits the firework-making process and raw materials used in the production of senko hanabi, you can chat with Ryota and Kyoko Tsutsui while enjoying the lingering afternotes of the firework-making experience. For those who wish to do so, shopping can also be done during this time.

\ツアー参加者の声/

  • ・※ツアー参加後に感想を入れる予定
  • ・※ツアー参加後に感想を入れる予定
Tour Code GFMY01
Dates 2021, 4/10 (Sat), starting at 13:00~
※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
Duration 3 hours
Schedule
13:00

Gather at Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks Co.

13:10

Learn about fireworks through a lecture

13:40

Make your very own senko hanabi

15:40

Browse and shop in the showroom

Languages JapaneseSupplementary explanations in English via translation device or lecture board can be provided upon request. Please make a note in the message box during registration to request this service.※An English interpreter can also be arranged for an additional fee. Please contact UNA Laboratories for more details.
Participants Minimum 5 / Maximum 8
Groups of up to 20 people can be accommodated (please contact UNA Labs for more details)
※The tour can be held for groups of 4 or less at the price of 37,500 yen per group.
Meeting Place
Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks Co., Ltd.
1950-1, Takei, Takata-machi, Miyama City, Fukuoka Prefecture
Reservation Deadline 5 days before the start of the tour
Payment Method Advance payment at the time of reservation (VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB)
Attire Dye paints will be used in this program, so please wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty.
Tour Conductor None
Note about Tour Conductors There will be no tour conductor from UNA Laboratories accompanying this program. Customers are responsible for managing their own itineraries.
Please Note
  • The tour will be held even in the event of rain, barring cases of inclement weather such as heavy rain or a typhoon.
  • All photos displayed on the website are for illustrative purposes only. As the workshop is not a tourist attraction, please note that the degree to which guests may enter the workshop may differ from day to day.
  • Guests who are under elementary school age may attend the tour accompanied by a parent or guardian. However, UNA Laboratories and Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks Co. shall not assume any responsibility for accidents/injuries that occur in the parking lot and/or during the tour. Especially during the workshop visit, please keep an eye on younger guests as to not touch the equipment.
  • We advise taking out domestic travel insurance when participating in this tour.
  • This tour may be cancelled in the event that its smooth implementation becomes difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the event of cancellation, the tour fee will be fully refunded.
Cancellation Policy 20 to 8 days before the day preceding the tour start date: 20% of the tour fee
7 to 2 days before the day preceding the tour start date: 30% of the tour fee
Day preceding the tour start date: 40% of the tour fee
Before departure on the tour start date: 50% of the tour fee
After the start of tour or no-show: 100% of the tour fee

UNA Laboratories COVID-19 Policy

UNA Laboratories is committed to ensuring the safety of our customers, staff, and community. In accordance with municipal, national, and industry guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases, UNA Laboratories is implementing the following measures:

  1. 1. Guides will wear a face shield during tours.
  2. 2. Guests are requested to wear a mask.
  3. 3. Hand-sanitizing alcohol will be provided.
  4. 4. We will check your temperature and general physical condition at the start of the tour. UNA Laboratories reserves the right to refuse tour participation if a customer’s temperature is over 37 degrees Celsius.
  5. 5. We strive to maintain adequate social distance throughout the tour, so the maximum number of participants will be capped at eight.

Travel Planning: Implementation

  • UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
  • 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
  • TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: tour@unalabs.jp
  • Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
    Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
  • Business Hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
  • *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
  • *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.

Tour Information

Dates
2021, 4/10 (Sat), starting at 13:00~
※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
Duration
3 hours
Recommended Age
5+
Price
7,500yen (tax and material fee included)
※ 3,500 yen for guests under 12. Guests under 12 can accompany a parent or guardian on the studio visit (without firework making) for free.