Monday 2 March 2009

Fire of the Long Sleeves

On this day....352 years ago, one of the most disastrous fires in history swept through the Japanese capital of Edo (now Tokyo). It all started when a priest was burning an unlucky kimono, which had been owned by two teenage girls who had both died before they got a chance to wear it.

As he was performing this important task, a violent wind got up and fanned the flames until they were out of control. Tokyo was a warren of narrow alleys, lined with small houses built of wood and paper, and for two days the “Fire of the Long Sleeves” ripped through them. It was only when the wind died down on the third day that the blaze started to abate.

By then the flames had destroyed more than 60 bridges, 300 temples, and 500 palaces, razing perhaps 70% of the city. The death toll was estimated at up to 100,000 out of a population of 300,000.


  1. Is it possible for you to cite the sources you used? Thanks

  2. see John Withington - A Disastrous History of the World (Piatkus)