New Year's Parade of Firemen

New Year's Parade of Firemen (Dezome-shiki)

January 6
Each year on January 6, the Tokyo Fire Department hosts a parade of vehicles and a display of ladder stunts to remind citizens of the dangers of fire and to pray for a safe year. The event dates from the Edo Period (17th through 19th centuries), when great fires struck several times. The New Year's Parade of Firemen originated then, with firemen praying in front of the shrine of Ueno Toshogu for a safe, fire-free year ahead. In those days, the main fire-fighting technique was to tear down the buildings near the source of the fire to prevent it from spreading. Ladders were indispensable tools, because the firefighters had to climb the roofs of the buildings, and they needed great agility and strength to scale the ladders.
The highlight of the present-day Parade of Firemen hearkens back to this tradition, as men dressed as firemen from the Edo period perform circus-like acrobatic stunts on bamboo ladders. In addition to the ladder displays, the event features large-scale fire-fighting and emergency drills, and a parade of more than 100 fire engines and helicopters. Similar events are held on January 6 throughout Japan, but the Tokyo event is considered the most spectacular.
Japan National Tourist Organization
515 S. Figueroa St., Ste. 1470
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213-623-1952; fax: 213-623-6301
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.