The fireworks at Kanzanji are one of the biggest free summer firework displays near Hamamatsu. Kanzanji is an area by lake Hamana which has several onsen, temples, a theme park and a Zoo. Held on the 4th Sunday of July, they are one of the bigger displays, second only to those at Fukuroi in August.
To reach Kanzanji you need to take Bus 30 from terminal 1 of Hamamatsu bus station. However as this is a really popular event, there's also a shuttle bus running direct to Kanzanji (from the same terminal at the bus station)—just look for the massive queue of people in yukata. There are two queues to board the bus, the longer one is for sitting on the bus, the other standing. Warning: This is a 45 minute bus drive (in good traffic) so although you may get there quicker, you might be too tired to grab a good spot!
At the venue you will find the usual assortment of festival stands serving food such as yakisoba fried noodles, but there is also a 7-11 store where you can buy food and beverages (alcoholic and otherwise). As always, I recommend getting here early with something to sit on and stuff to eat and drink, finding a good spot, and waiting till sunset.
What's slightly different with this display is the floating of candle lanterns on the lake. Each lantern represents someone who has passed away in the last year. The Japanese believe that humans come from water, so the lanterns represent their bodies returning to water. These lanterns are made from coloured paper and wood with a lit candle inside. The paper shells usually have messages written on them from loved ones. If you come early (before 6.30 pm) you can make your own lantern by the lakeside and either float it yourself or give it to people on the boat who will place it in the middle of the lake. The lanterns are lit and cast off at 7.30 pm just before the fireworks start.
At 7.40 pm the fireworks start and you can see beautiful contrast of lanterns on the lake and fireworks in the sky which are reflected in the water. The fireworks are set off to the west, so to get a good spot, come past the theme park and 7-11 to where the hotels are.
Like with all Japanese firework displays, this one is nothing short of spectacular—there are big fireworks, colourful fireworks, and fireworks in the shapes of eels and rabbits. The display lasts for one hour. Afterwards, there are shuttle buses running back to Hamamatsu till about midnight.