Flashback Friday: Dezome-shiki Acrobats

Each week we scour the web for interesting and historic documents that catch our eye. This pair of photographs from early 20th-century Japan was found on the Library of Congress Flickr account.
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Dezome-shiki (出初め式) is a New Year’s event organized by the Tokyo Fire Department. The event serves as a chance to pray for a safe, fire-free year, while also raising awareness of the dangers of fire. It has roots in Japan’s Edo period.

The ladder stunts, pictured here, are known to be the main attraction to present day. Nimble scaffolding workers commonly served as firefighters. This is because the skills associated with scaffolding translated well, since firefighting in Edo focused on preventing fires from spreading via a rapid tear down of the buildings surrounding the burning structure.

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Image #1

Title: Tokyo firemen
Date: [between ca. 1915 and ca. 1920]
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).
Format: Glass negatives.
Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.
Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Persistent URL: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2005024086/

Image #2

Title: Tokyo firemen
Date: [between ca. 1915 and ca. 1920]
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).
Format: Glass negatives.
Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.
Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
Persistent URL: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2005024087/

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