Okinawan firefighters strip for charity calendar
New York firefighters have been stripping down naked from the waist up for the past 17 years in their famous calendars. For years, Japan has been deprived of their own version of the 12 pages of steamy muscles, but not any longer.
The macho fire-fighting men of Okinawa let it hang out in the 2013 edition of the Okinawa Firefighters Calendar with all proceeds going to a great cause.
The calendar is the brainchild of Akira Shiroma, a local Okinawa firefighter and world bodybuilding competition winner. He originally wanted to appear in the New York Firefighters Calendar, but was disappointed to find that only New York resident firefighters were used as models. It then occurred to Shiroma that he could make his own calendar featuring local firefighters. The Okinawa Firefighter Calendar project was born.
But this sizzling calendar isn’t all brawn; there’s a greater purpose behind its creation.
The calendar is being used as a fundraiser for NPO MESH Support, an emergency helicopter ambulance service. Okinawa is made up of 160 small islands, making it impossible to use ground support to reach residents who don’t live on the mainland. The MESH Support service makes it possible for non-mainlanders to receive proper emergency medical care. However, operating costs for the program exceed 100 million yen per year, resulting in a lack of funds and suspension of MESH Support services. The Calendar Project is hoping to raise enough funds to assist MESH and keep ambulance helicopters in the air.
The Okinawa Firefighters Calendar project began in 2011 and firefighters will continue to strip down every year in support of MESH services. Last year, pictures featuring firefighters going about their normal (shirtless) firefighter business played a central role. The 2013 calendar will use scenic spots in Okinawa as the backdrop of each month’s photo.
Every year, the calendars are gobbled up by eager MESH/shirtless firefighter supporters. In 2011, all 1,000 calendars were sold out in three weeks, raising 1,200,000 yen. Due to the calendar’s overwhelming popularity, original production of the 2012 calendars was limited to 3,000 units, but was increased to 5,500 resulting in a 4,200,000 yen donation to the MESH Support program.
Last year, many people who were unable to buy a calendar, inquired about purchasing individual photos and in June, a set of 5 postcards went on sale to meet this demand. A photo book featuring the scantily clad firefighters will also go on sale, offering the perfect souvenir after a trip to Okinawa.
Showing off some muscle in support of emergency services has had an unexpected effect for the firefighters of Okinawa. In an attempt to look good while taking it off, many Okinawan firefighters began training and losing weight in order to be camera ready. They not only look better than before, they are able to perform better on the job.
For those eager to get their hands on a little piece of Okinawan firefighter, the Okinawa Firefighters Calendar 2013 can be reserved online for 2,000 yen.
Here’s to a shirtless, Okinawan firefighter-filled 2013!