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Wayback Wednesday: Great Fire Of Meireki 1657

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Meireki Fire Wiki Image
Image Credit: Wikipedia

One of the greatest disasters in Japanese history began in the Japanese capital city of Edo (original name of Tokyo) on March 2, 1657, 365 years ago, today. Legend has it that the fire was accidentally started by a priest who was supposedly trying to cremate a 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.

The fire spread quickly through the city, due to hurricane force winds, which were blowing from the northwest. Edo, like most Japanese cities, […] the buildings were especially dry due to a drought the previous year. [The] roads and other open spaces between buildings were small and narrow, allowing the fire to spread and grow particularly quickly.

The Great Fire of Meireki
Naked History
February 21, 2016

[The] city of Tokyo, Japan, then known as Edo, suffered a catastrophic fire that lasted three days, and killed 100,000 Japanese people, a death toll greater than either of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The carnage caused by the Great Fire of Meireki (or sometimes known as the Furisode Fire) combined to destroy about 60% to 70% of the buildings in Edo.

[The] wind spread the flames across a city that was built almost entirely of wood and paper buildings [and], firefighters [were] unable to keep up with the rapid spread of flames caused by the wind. The fire brigade established in Edo was a novel idea but, the force was nowhere near large enough to deal with a conflagration of this magnitude.

Reconstruction of the city lasted the next 2 years.

Great Fire Kills More Japanese Than Atom Bomb
History & Headlines
March 2, 2017

Additional Reading:
Japanese Tales: The Fire of the Furisode
(Elle Of A Kind Blog/01-07-2022)

Furisode Fire

The Great Fire Of Meireki/Destruction of Tokyo