Dezome-shiki New Year Firefighter’s Parade

Firefighter parades are held all over Japan at the beginning of January. The purpose is to pray for a fire-free year and to remind people of the danger of fire while entertaining them with parades of firefighters and fire trucks, helicopter rescues and emergency drills.

The main attraction is the ladder stunts. Men dressed as firemen of the Edo Period perform circus-like acrobatic stunts on top of towering bamboo ladders supported by their colleagues.

According to the JNTO website

The ladder was an indispensable fire-fighting tool in the Edo Period. This was because the main method back then was to tear down the surrounding buildings to prevent fire from spreading, so there was a need to climb up onto roofs. As agile movement was required, it was mostly nimble scaffolding workers who served as firemen in each town. These workers set up scaffolding when constructing buildings. As they needed to climb up higher when putting up the scaffolding, they had extraordinary strength and stamina.

These days, Hiroshima’s annual show takes place at the park in front of the Hiroshima Port terminal building in Ujina on January 5. The fun starts at 10am and the spectacular finale starts from around 11:30am.

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of and loves running in the mountains.