Japanese neighborhood fire patrol
I’ve started noticing the annual nightly winter time fire watch patrolling the neighbourhood. I can hear them, local volunteers, passing by out on the street around 9:00 p.m. banging two wooden clappers together while shouting “Hi no youjin!” or “Beware of fire!” Fire is one of the traditional disasters in Japan. The others include typhoon; earthquake; tsunami; volcanic eruption; and, flood. Decembers are frightfully cold in Tokyo. With no central heating and little insulation people tend to heat their homes, apartments and rooms with electric or gas space heaters. Kerosene space heaters are definitely the strongest and best for the task. But there is a danger to them and house fires remain a constant danger when people use this kind of heating. Hence the traditional nightly fire patrol in winter remains a living tradition today.