Spreading Fires during the Great Kantō Earthquake (Kantō Ruishō Ōjishin)
1855 (Ansei 2) Tokyo Shiryō Collection 0277-C56

This is a kawaraban (news broadsheets) "Yomiuri" depicting the large earthquake that hit Edo during the evening at around 10:00 p.m. on October 2, 1855 (Ansei 2). This earthquake is thought to have caused the loss of more than 7000 lives.

The Ansei period (1854 – 1860) was a period of successive large earthquakes and the damage throughout Edo brought about by the earthquake of 1855 (2nd year of Ansei) was particularly heavy.
Because of this, there was large scale publishing of hundreds of different types of simple printed materials detailing the burned-down areas and the state of the damage in Edo when the mass chaos that followed the earthquake was once brought into some order. There were a variety of works providing information about the times in the aftermath of the earthquake, fully applying contemporary humorous writing such as mitate banzuke (ranking lists), kusari moji (words game), Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Tanka Poems by One Hundred Celebrated Poets) and popular songs etc.
Many of them are instant productions without any names of house painters or seals of approval for publishing. They reveal how people sought information in the midst of chaos followed after the disaster. This picture is one of such kawaraban (news broadsheets) and notes in the right hand the location of a shelter hut to rescue victims of the disaster and the state of the damage by town.