Blame the duck

[Update: Corrected translation. According to my professor, I was right the first time about the girls, but wrong about the grammatical inversion in the first verse. It’s “wine, women, and song”, not “wine, women, then song”…]

[Update: Now with romanized karaoke lyrics and translation!]

[Update: New! Improved! Now with extra Blue Man! This clip claims the group is Tokiwazu, so perhaps the other name only refers to their work with the full orchestra.]

He started it with Oo-Edo no Hikeshi (大江戸の火消し = “Firemen of Edo”). This led me to track down their versions of two other classics (1, 2), as well as the people responsible (題名のない音楽会 = “Orchestra Without A Name”), and the occasion (350th anniversary of the Great Fire of Meireki).

But there’s more. I found a higher-resolution video, and transcribed lyrics. My reading class will be amusing next week…


たちゃ琵琶湖に行った 弁財天詣で
夜詰め当番済まして 湯治兼ねて
たまには上美女揃えて 重ねて
木遣りの声にも磨きを あてて帰ろうか

大江戸の火消し 空もはればれ

琵琶湖じゃ小屋で 芝居をやっていた
ちょいと覗いて行こうか 急ぎの旅でなし
江戸からの旅役者が はるばる来ていた
はだか火使って火が出て 俺たちの出番

火事場にゃ火消し 空には火の粉

And for the kana-challenged who want to sing along:

Oo-Edo no Hikeshi

Ore-tacha Biwako ni itta, Benzaiten moude sa
Yozume no touban sumashite, touji mo kanete
Tama ni wa jou-sama soroete, sakazuki kasanete
Kiyari no koe ni mo migaki o, atete kaerou ka

Oo-Edo no hikeshi, sora mo harebare
Oo-Edo no hikeshi

Biwako ja hotori no koya de, shibai o yatte ita
Choito nozoite ikou ka, isogi no tabi de nashi
Edo kara no tabi-yakusha ga, harubaru kite ita
Hadaka-bi-zukatte hi ga dete, Ore tachi no debaru sa

Kajiba nya hikeshi, sora ni wa hinoko da
Kajiba nya hikeshi

Oh, what the hell, let’s try for English (loose where necessary to fit the tune):

Fire Brigade of Edo

We went up to Lake Biwa, a pilgrimage to Benzaiten,
after standing watch all night long. At the hot springs there,
we arranged for hot young women, and plenty of hot sake,
and practiced our hard-labor chant. Now shall we head straight for home?

Fire-brigade of Edo, the sky begins to brighten.
Fire-brigade of Edo.

In a hut on Biwa's shore, they were putting on a play.
Let's stop in and take a little peek, we're not in a hurry.
Troupe of Edo actors, had come up all the way from town.
Open flame turned into fire, our turn now to do our duty.

Fire-brigade on the scene, the sparks are in the sky.
Fire-brigade on the scene.