The scent of senkouhanabi

Maaya Wakasugi

28th July, 2023

Some of the most popular summer activities include beach bathing, watermelon and ice-cream snacks, fighting mosquitoes and, above all, firework displays. This year I was able to admire the one in Bordeaux.
I love the grandeur of the fireworks bursting into the starry sky, but I'm particularly fond of the senkouhanabi, the tiny hand-held fireworks that are typically Japanese. Wise and unadorned, they represent for me the soul of my compatriots. When I was a child, with my brother and some friends, we used to have fun making these thin rods last as long as possible, at the end of which a glowing ball projected sparks.

Since I've been living in France, I haven't had many opportunities to go to Japan in summer. I'd love to be able to smell that special aroma again, and see that little ball of fire moving up the sprig. It is said that there are five stages in the senkouhanabi process. At the beginning, a small ball forms, like a flower bud, then it grows with energy like a peony and its sparks are projected further away like pine needles to live out its last hours like a willow. Finally, it fades like falling chrysanthemum petals. The Japanese see this evolution as a metaphor for human life, and it's not for nothing that hana-bi literally means "flower of flame". Fireworks alone express the Japanese aesthetic of the transience of life, the spirit of mononoaraware.  
I have vivid memories of these little flowers of flame.

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Maaya Wakasugi

Calligraphy artist

Born in 1977 in Okayama, Japan. Lives in Bordeaux. Maaya Wakasugi was born in 1977, in the province of Okayama. At the age of 6 he began calligraphy, at 17 he held his first exhibition. In 2001, he graduated from the prestigious DAITO BUNKA Faculty of Arts and developed a personal style based on the so-called "ancient characters". Then, his choice of motifs that he liberates from the classical style, as well as the quality of his artistic expression, bring him a notoriety in Japan as well as abroad - exhibitions at NY ART EXPO (New York), at NEXT STEP BIENNALE (Paris), realization of a performance at MoMA. In January 2017 he calligraphed the title "Onna Jōshu Naotora" of the new historical fiction of the national television channel NHK. In 2018 he is the "Guest Artist of the Summer" by the municipality of Andernos-les-Bain. In 2019 he was chosen to calligraph the name of the new Japanese era "REIWA" on the official website of Yahoo! For the past three years he has been training adults from the PHILOMATHIQUE de Bordeaux, as well as primary and secondary school students from the region, in calligraphy workshops, the most recent of which took place at the DON BOSCO Institute in Gradignan.