The great Fireworks Festival of Nagaoka started, I learned on my last visit, after the city was burned to ashes during the Second World War. Thus the beauty and splendor are dedicated to the souls of the dead. Most of the onlookers would probably be unaware of the significance of the airy show. That's OK. The fireworks work for our aesthetics even in sheer ignorance.
We were standing on the snow, and were looking at the fireworks above, an annual winter display of the magnificent technology. Although on a smaller scale compared to the summer one, it was still grand. There was an eerie quality of the beautiful, lived and experienced, enshrouded by the cold.
Takumi was standing next to me. He has been my sidekick ever since I met him when I was teaching at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
Takumi is a terror to many girls. He is known as "P. Ueda". The prefix comes from the fact that the subject of his oil painting is mainly his private part. He claims that his thing is shaped like the Jaguar emblem.
We were standing on the white field, far from the cheering crowd. All of a sudden, Takumi started to tell me about his mother. She left home when he was six years old, never to return. The next day an aunt came, and made him the first milk coffee of his life. He has not seen his mother ever since.
It is not clear, to this day, what made Takumi tell me the story of the tragedy of his life on that evening, in the show, shivering from cold, looking up at the great display of the fireworks. Maybe it had something to do with the souls. Perhaps fireworks are mirrors.