taika great fires

. Edo bakufu 江戸幕府 The Edo Government .

taika 江戸の大火 Edo no Taika "Great Fires of Edo"

During the Edo period, when people lived closely in wooden homes and used open fire for cooking, fires were especially terrible.
Fire and fighting are the flowers of Edo (kaji to kenka wa Edo no hana)
is an old proverb of these dangerous times.

hatsu kaji 初火事 first fire
The first fire of the new year is often seen as a bringer of bad luck, if it happens during the first three days of the New Year.

Matsuo Basho's first "Basho Hut (Bashoo An 芭蕉庵" burned down, on January 25, 1683.

. WKD : kaji 火事 fire .
hi no ban 火の番 on the lookout for fire
machibikeshi, machi hikeshi 町火消し local fire brigade
hi no yoojin 火の用心 fire prevention goods


江戸の火事と火消 / 山本純美

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Fires in Edo
were fires which occurred in Edo (江戸), now Tokyo, during the Edo period. The city of Edo was characterized by frequent great fires as the saying "Fires and quarrels are the flowers of Edo" goes.
Even in the modern days, the old Edo was still remembered as the "City of Fires" (「火災都市」). The city was something of a rarity in the world, as vast urban areas of Edo were repeatedly leveled by fire. The great fires of Edo were compared to the Chinese gods of fire Shukuyū (祝融) and Kairoku (回禄), and also humorously described as "autumn leaves".
..... During the 267 years between 1601 (Keichō 6), the year after the Battle of Sekigahara (関ヶ原の戦い), and 1867 (Keiō 3), the year of Taisei Hōkan (大政奉還, literally "return of sovereignty"), Edo was struck by 49 great fires.
..... The strong winter monsoon from the north was a meteorological condition unique to Edo. It contributed to many winter and spring fires that occurred in dry weather brought about by prevailing northwest and north winds.....

December 26, 1601 / 6 Keicho/11
March 10or11, 1641 / 8 Kan-ei/1/29or30 - Oke-machi Fire 桶町火事
March 2–3, 1657 / 3 Meireki/1/18-19 - Great Fire of Meireki 明暦の大火
January 25, 1683 / 2 Tenna/12/28 - Great Fire of Tenna 天和の大火
October 9, 1698 / 11 Genroku/9/6 - Chokugaku Fire 勅額火事
December 25, 1704 / 16 Genroku/11/29 - Mito-sama Fire 水戸様火事
March 14, 1745 / 2 Enkyo/2/12 - Rokudō Fire 六道火事
March 22, 1760 / 10 Horeki/2/6 - Hōreki Fire 宝暦の大火
April 1, 1772 / 9 Meiwa/2/29 - Great Fire of Meiwa 明和の大火
April 22, 1806 / 3 Bunka/3/4 - Great Fire of Bunka 文化の大火
April 24, 1829 / 12 Bunsei/3/21 - Great Fire of Bunsei 文政の大火 / 江戸神田佐久間町の大火 Great fire in Sakumacho 1829
. March 16, 1834 / 5 Tempo/2/7 - Kōgo Fire 甲午火事 - and Sakuma Fire .
March 2, 1845 / 2 Koka/1/24 - Aoyama Fire 青山火事
November 11, 1855 / 2 Ansei/10/2 - Earthquake Fire 地震火事

Tokugawa shogunate's fire prevention measures
Firefighting organizations

- machibikeshi (町火消, chōnin firefighters).
- buke hikeshi (武家火消 samurai firefighters)
-- daimyō hikeshi (大名火消, daimyo firefighters) and
-- jōbikeshi (定火消, hatamoto firefighters).

Anti-arson measures
- Hitsuke tōzoku aratame 火付盗賊改方

Urban planning - fire barrier zones

- Hiyokechi 火除地 and hirokōji 広小路
- Fire-resistant and fireproof structures
- Prohibitions and fire alert orders
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Meireki no Taika 明暦の大火 Great Fire of Meireki
March 2–3, 1657 / 3 Meireki/1/18-19
... also known as the Furisode Fire, destroyed 60–70% of the Japanese capital city of Edo (now Tokyo) on March 2, 1657, the third year of the Meireki Imperial era. The fire lasted for three days, and is estimated to have claimed over 100,000 lives.
The fire was said to have been started accidentally by a priest who was cremating an allegedly cursed kimono. The kimono had been owned in succession by three teenage girls who all died before ever being able to wear it. When the garment was being burned, a large gust of wind fanned the flames causing the wooden temple to ignite.
. . . . . On the 24th day of the new year, six days after the fire began, monks and others began to transport the bodies of those killed down the Sumida River to Honjo, Sumida,_Tokyo, a community on the eastern side of the river. There, pits were dug and the bodies buried; the Ekō-in (Hall of Prayer for the Dead) was then built on the site.
. . . . . Under the guidance of Rōjū Matsudaira Nobutsuna 松平信綱, streets were widened and some districts replanned and reorganized
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Matsudaira Nobutsuna 松平信綱 (1596 – 1662)
was a Japanese daimyo of the early Edo period, who ruled the Kawagoe Domain. First serving Tokugawa Iemitsu as a page, Nobutsuna was renowned for his sagacity. He was named a rōjū in 1633. Nobutsuna led the shogunal forces to their final victory over the rebellion at Shimabara. His court title was Izu no Kami, which was the origin of his nickname, "Izu the Wise" (知恵伊豆 Chie Izu).
. . . . . In his later years, he joined senior Tokugawa officials such as Hoshina Masayuki in supporting the underaged 4th shogun, Ietsuna. With Hoshina he planned how to rebuilt the town of Edo after the great fire.
. . . . . Shogun Ietsuna calls him "as ugly as a toad".
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

The bridge 両国橋 Ryogokubashi across the 隅田川 Sumida river was constructed on request of Hoshina and Matsudaira to provide an escape road for the townspeople. The land on the other side soon thrived as a popular amusement district, as did many other of the newly built hirokooji 広小路 Hirokoji, Wide Roads, which provided space for yatai 屋台 stalls and evening business.

. Ryoogokubashi 両国橋  Ryogokubashi bridge .

The 天守閣 tenshukaku tower of Edo castle was also lost during the Meireki fire.
It was not rebuilt any more, to express the lasting peace of the Tokugawa bakufu and the money was spent to rebuilt the town. The gates at the other bridges of Edo were also kept open for free transportation and trade in Edo, thus improving the life of the citizens. This also expressed the now lasting peace of the Bakufu, showing that a castle for war defense was no longer needed.

. Edo joo 江戸城 Edojo, Edo Castle .


October 9, 1698 - Chokugaku Fire 勅額火事
Also called 元禄江戸大火 or 中堂火事
It started from Kyobashi and by a southern wind spread fast. Soon it came down from Surugadai to Shitaya 下谷、Kanda Myojin Shita 神田明神下 and 湯島天神下 Yushima Tenjin Shita.
Then to 下谷池之端 Shitaya Ikenohata and on to Asakusa. It was stopped by a great rain after 22 hours.
More than 3000 dead.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. Shitaya 下谷 and modern Taitō-ku 台東区 Taito Ward .


April 22, 1806 - Great Fire of Bunka 文化の大火
Also called 丙寅の大火 or 車町火事 or 牛町火事.
It started in 車町, passed the Kamiyashiki of the Satsuma clan.
It destroyed much of the Ryogoku, Kyobashi and Nihonbashi districts of Edo, and on to Kanda and Asakusa.
Next day came a great rain and the fire extinguished.
More than 1200 dead.

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 and the Shitaya Fire Haiku .
Issa lived in 下谷 Shitaya at that time.

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Ueno Hirokoji / Shitaya / Yamashita
The area around the present day Ueno Park (the former Kan'ei-ji Temple).
Ueno Hirokoji is the area from the entrance to present day Ueno Park to Matsuzakaya.
After the Great Fire of Meireki (1657), the street width was widened and the area was made into a firebreak. This was a shopping quarter lined with grocery stores, restaurants and other shops along the route of the Onarimichi (a special road used by the imperial family, regents and advisers and the shogun) successive Shoguns throughout history when they went to worship at the Kan'ei-ji Temple.
At the intersection of the present day Chuo St. and Shinobazu St. the Shinobu-gawa River flowed, and there were 3 bridges over it so the area was called Mihashi (three bridges). Matsuzakaya and Mihashi were both pictured in nishiki-e.
Shitaya refers to a section on the east side of Kan'ei-ji Temple (present day Ueno Park), and the name (lower valley) was in reference to Ueno, which was a plateau.
Yamashita (below mountain) refers to being beneath Toeizan. It was located in the area within the present day JR Ueno Station building and the plaza in front of the station. In 1737 it was made into a firebreak after a fire, and became an amusement district with stores and entertainment booths rather than a residential area.
- reference source : ndl.go.jp/landmarks/e/sights -


Three Great Fires of Edo 江戸の三大大火

Meireki 明暦の大火
Meguro Gyooninzaka 目黒行人坂の大火 Meguro Gyoninzaka (Meiwa no taika)
Hinoe Tora 丙寅の大火
(Bunka no taika)

- source : gakken.co.jp/kagakusouken -

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Meguro Gyōnin-zaka slope and Fuji 目黒行人坂冨士
Gyōnin-zaka is a steep slope at Shimo-Meguro, Meguro Ward.
The slope was so named because ascetics from Mt.Yudonosan in Ushū (Yamagata Prefecture)
built a Dainichinyorai-do hall there. ("gyōnin" means "ascetic".)
- source : Tokyo Metropolitan Museum -


. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

Tokyo 文京区 Bunkyo Ward

. The Fire at 伝通院 Temple Denzu-In, Dentsu-In .

Tokyo 中央区 Chuo Ward

At the Great Bunsei Fire on there was a shop sign that did not burn.
Near the origin of the fire, there was a small hut that did not burn.

Tokyo 練馬区 Nerima

kitsune 狐 the fox
There lives an old fox in the temple. When he called out, he warned people of a fire, so three or four times a great fire could be averted. He is therefore called

火消稲荷 Fire-extinguishing Inari
a form of hi no kami inari 火の神稲荷, Inari as a Fire Deity.

Tokyo 西多摩郡 Nishi-Tama district 檜原村 Hinohara village

akai kami 赤い紙 a red paper
A poorly looking traveler was refused to stay over night.
The traveler went to the outskirts of the village, folded a red paper and let it fly.
The paper flew to the home where the traveler had been refused and caused a fire.
Many other homes also burned down that night in a large fire.

Tokyo 品川区 Shinagawa ward

O-Koojin sama お荒神様 the Venerable Kojin Deity
Once there was a fire in a shopping area in front of Shinagawa station.
A man took a small sancutary of the Kojin Deity, placed it on the roof in the direction of the fire and opened the doors of the sanctuary.
Soon the wind changed direction and the fire stopped at his neighbours house.
. Kojin, Aragami 荒神と伝説 Legends about the Aragami deity .


- source : nichibun yokai database -


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. taika 大火と伝説 Legends about big fires in Japan .

. Japanese Architecture - Interior Design - The Japanese Home .

. Famous Places and Powerspots of Edo 江戸の名所 .

. Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. Legends and Tales from Japan 伝説 - Introduction .

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Gabi Greve said...

Honzaimokuchoo 本材木町 Honzaimokucho, Honzaimoku-cho district

zaimoku 材木 wood for construction work, lumber, timber
zaimoku shoonin 材木商人 dealers in timber
zaimokudonya, zaimokudoya 材木問屋 timber brokers

Since fires were quite frequent in Edo, the provision of construction wood was essential.
. taika 江戸の大火 Edo no Taika "Great Fires of Edo" .

Timber was transported on boats, so the district is located from Nihonbashi along the river Kaedegawa 楓川 with eight sub-districts along 2 km.


Gabi Greve said...

Ekoin Kannon, Ekō-in 回向院観音 - Ryogoku
諸宗山 Shoshuzan, 無縁寺 Muen-Ji

東京都墨田区両国2-8-10 / Ryōgoku, Sumida, Tokyo
On March 2, 1657, the Great Fire of Meireki destroyed 60 to 70% of the city of Edo (Tokyo) and killed about 100,000 people. The shōgun Tokugawa Ietsuna wished to commemorate the victims of the fire, most of whom were not survived by relatives. For this purpose he erected a monument called the Banninzuka (Mound of a Million Souls) and held a great memorial service conducted by Jun'yo Jōjin (遵誉上人, Holy Priest Junyo) of Zōjō-ji. A temple for prayers to Amida Buddha was built at the same time. This was the origin of the Ekō-in, which today continues to offer a resting place for any soul who did not leave relatives behind, including victims of natural disasters, prisoners, and animals.

Gabi Greve said...

daichi 代地 government replacement land

kaechi 替え地 was land given in exchange to the owner when the land needed to be used for public purposes.
The land was taken from Daimyo yashiki 大名屋敷 estated, temples and shrines. Sometimes even the houses of normal citizens were taken and land given in exchange elsewhere.
Most often land was to be used as hiyokechi 火除地 fire barrier zones.

Gabi Greve said...

Enjoji 圓乗寺 / 円乗寺 Enjo-Ji - Hakusan
This is the temple where Tenna no taika 天和の大火 the great fire caused by the girl 八百屋お七 Yaoya no O-Shichi, "Greengrocer Oshichi" started. Her grave is still in this temple.