Firefighters perform Hashigo Nori ladder acrobatics at the Kawagoe Dezome Shiki

Update December 5th; over the last day or two, several fire brigades have cancelled their firefighter festival / dezome shiki. Because they are either helping with earthquake relief or are on standby to do so. Eternal gratitude to firefighters around the world.

Twenty places for Dezome Shiki, a New Year Firefighter festival of sorts, in Saitama Prefecture in 2024.

I am a huge fan of firefighters the world over. And have been very fortunate to work with the Japanese fire brigade on several occasions during my years in Japan. I have a sincere and deep admiration of every single man and woman who is drawn to this honorable vocation. Therefore, the dezome shiki firefighter celebration is an event I feel very passionately about. If you are in Japan over the New Year, I highly recommend checking out this only-in-Japan event. Especially one that has hashigo-nori, which is acrobatics on bamboo ladders!

Firefighter Festival

In recent years Dezome Shiki is often translated as New Year Firefighter Ceremony, but when I first came to Japan the term New Year’s Parade of Firefighters was most commonly used. However, many of them are really more like a festival than a parade or ceremony. We try to attend a firefighter festival every year out of respect for fire fighters and gratitude to the fire department. Bonus: it is a really fun family day out! Dezome is one of the those uniquely Japanese traditions that it can’t be translated into just one word. Literally, it means “first performance”or “debut”. It is usually written with shiki for ceremony. It is most commonly used for the first fire fighter’s ceremony and celebration of a New Year.

I’ve been to several dezome shiki over the years and they really are all quite different. For example, some have parades, some don’t, some have hashigo-nori (ladder acrobatics) some don’t etc. Generally most of them have some sort of ceremony and / or blessing followed by a demonstration of the skills and work of fire fighters. All are entertaining, but some more entertaining than others! Whatever way you want to describe it, dezome shiki firefighters festival is well worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. Even the smallest of dezome shiki have some entertainment and not just a blessing of the fire fighters. Most have rescue vehicles on display and some type of rescue demonstration at the very least.

Saitama Prefecture Firefighter Festivals in 2024 埼玉県出初式 令和6年

Here is a list of ten places you can see a fire fighter festival in Saitama this New Year and every New Year. The dates will change for some of them each year. But some of them have a fixed annual date, which I highlight when applicable. The dates in the table below are specifically for 2024. There is a summary of ten of the dezome shiki below this chart. But please do check with the official websites before going out the door, because the weather and other mitigating factors can cause last minute changes, even cancellations. For example, in 2024 many of the ceremonies have been cancelled, because the fire brigades are helping with the Noto Peninsula earthquake relief;

I have checked most of these locations on January 5th, but I can’t check them daily. So please please do check with the official website for the most up to date information. Due to the earthquake they may be cancelled yet, even very last minute.

1.Saitama City さいたま市Sunday January 14th
2.Kawagoe City 川越市Sunday January 7th
3.Sayama City 狭山市Saturday January 6th
4.Iruma City 入間市Sunday January 7th
5.Tokorozawa City 所沢市Sunday January 7th
6.Kumagaya City  熊谷市Saturday January 6th
7.Kawajima Town 川島町Saturday January 6th
8.Kasukabe City 春日部市Monday January 8th
9. Misato City 三郷市Sunday January 7th
10. Asaka City 朝霞市Sunday January 14th
Bonus Content
11.Shiki City 志木市Sunday January 14th
12.Wako City 和光市Sunday January 7th
13.Hidaka City 日高市Sunday January 7th
14.Toda City 戸田市Sunday January 7th
15.Chichibu 秩父Saturday January 6th
16.Ageo 上尾市Sunday January 14th
17.Gyoda 行田市Saturday January 6th
18.Kazo 加須市Friday January 5th
19.Hasuda 蓮田市Saturday January 13th
20.Ogose 越生町Sunday January 7th
21.Tsurugashima 鶴ヶ島市Sunday January 7th
22.Konosu 鴻巣市Saturday January 6th
23.Hatoyama 鳩山町Saturday January 6th

1. Omiya, Saitama City Dezome

The official flyer of the Omiya Dezome Shiki in 2023

Saitama City is the capital of Saitama Prefecture. It used to be called Omiya, which is still an area within Saitama City. The Omiya Firefighter Festival is, not surprisingly, one of the largest in Saitama prefecture. However, it is not particularly long despite that. It is also one of only a few that takes place at a fire station. This particular Dezome Shiki has its own English event page on this website here.

Date:Sunday January 14th 2024.
Time:From 10 am to noon
Location:Omiya Fire Station (on google maps)
Online:2024 Event web page

2. Kawagoe Firefighter Festival

A kawagoe firefighter performs Ladder acrobatics at a New Year Firefighter festival called a dezome shiki
Hashigo Nori at Kawagoe Firefighter Festival

The fire brigade’s new year celebrations takes place in a few areas, with the main area around the Kawagoe City Hall. There they perform the hashigo nori ladder acrobats, which really have to be seen to be believed! There is also a water jet show and helicopter display at this annual dezome shiki. In 2022, it was one of only a handful of dezome shiki that went ahead despite the pandemic, with spectators. And don’t you know – I was one of them! Kawagoe is one of several locations that has cancelled their dezome shiki in 2024.

Date:Sunday January 7th 2024 cancelled
Time:From 9 to 11 am
Location:Kawagoe City Hall (on google maps)
Online:Official event website

3. Sayama City

The Sayama City Dezome Shiki has been confirmed for Saturday January 6th in 2024. It is held at Kami Okudomi Undo park along the Iruma river. The finer details for 2024 have not yet been released, but generally fourteen fire trucks are on display and there are several demonstrations including one with a helicopter. They also have a water jet demonstration.

Date:Saturday January 6th 2024 Cancelled.
Time:From 9.30 am
Location:Kami Okadomi Undo Park (on google maps)
Online:the 2024 event page has not yet been published, but the date has been confirmed.

4. Iruma City Dezome Shiki

Iruma Dezome
Clipped from the official website

This is actually one of the Firefighter Festivals that does have a parade. Each section of the Iruma City Fire Department parade in either their relevant work uniforms or full dress uniform. It is one of the dezome shiki in Saitama that does have hashigo-nori ladder acrobats. They also have water fighting demonstrations at this festival too. A siren will go off on the morning of the event at 8.30 am to indicate the festival is going ahead. Information about the location in English.

Date:Sunday 7th of January 2024 Cancelled.
Time:From 10 am to about noon
Location:Sai no Mori Park Car park (on google maps)
Online:Official event web page on the Iruma City website

5. Tokorozawa City

The Tokorozawa City new year firefighting event is quite a large one with several elements. However, they unfortunately do not have hashigo nori. For any fire engine lovers; there is a parade of the brigade’s vehicles. There is a taiko drum performance and local kindergarten music performance too. It takes place in the beautiful, family friendly and engaging Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park. Even more information in English for this ceremony, including a detailed schedule.

Date:Sunday January 7th 2024. Cancelled.
Time:From 10 am to noon
Location:Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park (on google maps)
Online:Official website

6. Kumagaya City Dezome

From the official website

This dezome shiki is a bit different to most other dezome in Saitama Prefecture. Because 1) it starts at a shrine, 2) the firefighters parade from one location to another. Also, this dezome shiki is on the same date every year, regardless of what day of the week it is. They do have the famous hashigo nori ladder acrobatics at this festival, as you can see in the photo above from Kumagaya City website. More information in English.

Date:Annually on the fixed date of January 6th
Time:From 12.30 to 3 pm
Location:Takagi Shrine (on google maps)
Online:Official event website

7. Kawajima Festival

Kawajima New Year

Kawajima, although its own town, is actually part of the Kawagoe Fire Brigade. Despite that, it has its own separate festival in Heisei no Mori Park in Kawajima Town. A highlight of this festival is the rescue demonstrations, including a helicopter rescue demo. There are traditional performances such as shishimai as well. Usually the town’s mascots are also on site for photo ops, but no guarantees as things have been quite different since the pandemic. The Kawajima fire brigade are helping with Noto peninsula earthquake relief and as such have cancelled their dezome shiki in 2024.

Date:Saturday January 6th 2024 Cancelled
Time:From 9 to 11 am
Location:Kawajima Town Hall parking lot beside Heisei No Mori Park (on google maps)
Online:Official event website

8. Kasukabe Dezome Shiki 春日部市出初式

Kasukabe has confirmed they will have a dezome shiki, but unfortunately they have only released the date so far. Their ceremony is usually on coming-of-age day, a public holiday annually in Japan. In previous years, there was a procession of approximately 180 firefighters. They had demonstrations such as how to operate a pump car and rescue training using a helicopter. Finally,they have a water jet demonstration into the river creating a colorful arch of water, almost like a rainbow.

Date: Monday January 8th 2024
Time: tbc
Location: Parking lot of the Kasukabe Citizen’s Cultural Center aka Kasukabe Civic Culture Hall. View on Google Maps.
Online: Kasukabe City Official website

9. Misato

For the first time in four years, Misato will have a regular Dezome Shiki. They did have the festival in 2023, but it was only on for one hour and nothing like an usual year. They used to have an English language web page for the event, but unfortunately, its gone since 2022. I took this from the website in 2019:

Special performances by the firefighters, Kiyari (work song for carrying heavy logs) and Hashigo-nori (acrobatic performance atop ladders) by Misato Tobi Association (scaffolders), demonstrations by children/ students of municipal elementary / junior high schools, appearance of MIKA+RIKA the Misato City PR ambassador, and more

Misato City website
Date:Sunday January 7th 2024
Time:From 9.40 am to about 12.30 pm
Location: Misato City Culture Hall (on google maps)
Online: Official event page.

10. Asaka City Dezome

The Asaka City firefighters new year celebration takes part around the Asaka City Hall. Like several other of the dezome shiki, it may not go ahead in the event of rain. This is normally a particularly nice one for kids because they usually have an interactive corner from around noon to around 1:00 pm. The “Firefighting Team Fureai Hiroba” allows children try discharging water and / or explore a fire engine, ride a fire rescue car and they have photo ops too. However, they have yet to release the information specific to 2024.

Date:Sunday January 14th 2024
Time:From 9 am to 1 pm usually – 2024 information not yet available.
Location: Asaka City Hall (on google maps)
Online: Asaka Official Website

Of the dezome shiki listed in the ‘bonus’ section, so far Toda City and Ogose Towns have cancelled their 2024 event. Both were supposed to be on January 7th. You can find more information for #21, Tsurugashima and Sakado’s joint dezome shiki, here, which thus far has not yet been cancelled. Please check the official website for further updates.

I hope you can make it to a firefighter festival aka dezome shiki near you this year. Please note heavy rain and / or snow fall will effect the line up of these events. There may also be cancellations due to you-know-what! Please do check with the official websites for any last minute changes.

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New Year Japan dezome shiki fire fighting new year parade

The above photo is a stock photo from Pixabay. I took the featured photo at the top of the post at the Kawagoe Dezome Shiki.

Republished 20221222 and 20231226 Original dezome-shiki-saitama

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