Dozens of hot air balloons from all over the world decorated the clear autumn sky on Thursday as the Saga International Balloon Fiesta opened in Saga, southwestern Japan.
Pilots fired up balloons with an array of colors and shapes to carry them high above the ground, waving to spectators cheering loudly on the ground as they rose into the sky.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the fiesta and 121 balloons from 16 countries and regions are participating in the event that runs until Monday.
To get closer to the goal or the target, pilots need to have high-level controlling skills and sharp judgement for wind property in competitions that start each day from 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Pilots also need to be in contact with crews on the ground to know how the wind frequency has changed due to the limited information they can get in the sky.
Weird and wacky balloons in shapes such as the popular character Minion are scheduled to take part. "Night Mooring," where balloons shine against the darkness of the night to music, illuminated by the red flames of their burners, is also planned.
"Seeing beautiful air balloons really lifted my spirits," Nanoko Kamogashira, a visitor from Fukuoka, said with a smile.
In the event of strong winds or rain, the competitions will either be canceled or subject to a change in content.