Tokyobling's Blog

Hashigonoriengi – Ladder Acrobatics in Asakusa

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 31, 2014

My favorite part of the annual firefighter’s memorial service in Asakusa’s Sensoji temple is the hashigonoriengi, or ladder acrobatics. The firefighters, which were originally often recruited from lower ranking samurai had to be skilled in climbing the handmade bamboo ladders, and these acrobatics were developed as way to let them develop their skills while showing off their fearless attitude and bravery.

There are quite a few different positions, while all are dangerous some of them are so dangerous that even imagining performing them makes my spine chill. Still, the firefighters make it all look easy. When it rains the ladders get quite slippery but on this ceremony the weather held and we were treated to all the best positions!

Quite by chance I found this Youtube video of some darling genius who made a story book tale of a bunch of bears starting their own hashigonoriengi group, from studying with tiny textbooks to actually performing at a little shrine! More photos from this annual ceremony to come though.



















8 Responses

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  1. TonyJ2 said, on May 31, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Great photos. I have to think about how this sort of activity would NOT happen in Australia dud to work safety concerns no doubt.
    I recall seeing building guys climbing up and around bamboo scaffolds nearby. Daring do!


    • tokyobling said, on June 5, 2014 at 2:49 am

      Thank you Tony! (^-^) Bamboo is excellent material for scaffolding, cheaper and safer than metal stuff.


  2. Linda said, on June 1, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Wonderful series of photos!


  3. Cathryn said, on June 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    So the guys at the bottom are holding the ladder up whilst their colleague does the tricks? Oh my word. I bet their mothers are terrified! Incredible.


    • tokyobling said, on June 5, 2014 at 2:52 am

      Haha… I think there might have been a few mothers there. I saw quite a few fathers! (^-^)


  4. Timi said, on June 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Umm…there might have been a word about is (if there were sry), but what is the reason only men does the acrobatics? If it’s strength or ability, girls can do amazing things too I think (as I saw gymnastics all the time).


    • tokyobling said, on June 5, 2014 at 3:02 am

      Women are great at acrobatics, indeed! The Chinese have their young ladies performing on stacked chairs and such. But none of these men are professional acrobats, they are all real life fire fighters…! This is just a tradition or a hobby. Japan has many females in the fire fighter services, but they usually focus on tasks and positions that do not require as much physical effort, such as crowd control, communications, equipment etc.


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