[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).
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.