Members of the Edo Firemanship Preservation Association demonstrate traditional techniques developed in the Edo Period (1603-1867) during an annual new year "dezomeshiki" ceremony held by the Tokyo Fire Department in Tokyo's Koto Ward on Jan. 6. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Tokyo firefighters showed off acrobatic feats dating back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) in an annual event called "dezomeshiki" (literally "ceremony to start working") that this year was held partly against the backdrop of a partial solar eclipse.

Around 2,400 spectators marveled as members of the Tokyo Fire Department performed traditional stunts Jan. 6 that involved balancing on bamboo poles with legs and arms spread open or skilfully maintaining a position by nimbly inserting bare feet into special supports.

The event held at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center in Tokyo's Koto Ward to practice firefighting and rescue techniques involved 2,800 firefighters as well as department staff and other members.

Also on hand were 148 fire trucks, five firefighting helicopters and eight firefighting vessels.

Firefighters simulated rescuing someone in distress who was using a wheelchair. They hauled the individual in a large basket using a fire ladder truck, the first time for the equipment to feature in the event.

The drill is designed to prepare for fires, explosions, major earthquakes and to rescue people from high-rise buildings and collapsed structures.

Spectators burst into loud cheers and applause when the traditional crowd-pleasing acrobatic performance was showcased.

The difficult stunts perched on traditional bamboo ladders called “hashigonori” feature amazing feats of agility and balancing by members of the Edo Firemanship Preservation Association, which works to preserve firefighting traditions developed during the Edo Period.

Fire hoses sprayed water in five colors simultaneously, putting on an extravagant finale.

Fire Chief Kenichi Murakami, alluding to busy months in the year ahead with, for example, the abdication of Emperor Akihito on April 30 and the countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said that the Tokyo Fire Department "will take all possible measures (to ensure safety and save people’s lives)."

Athletes hoping to become Olympians for the Games next year were also invited to the venue. The event was extra special this year as a partial solar eclipse occurred.