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Disaster Struck the City of Edo

Spreading Fires during the Great Kantō Earthquake (Kantō Ruishō Ōjishin)
[1855 (Ansei 2)]

Japan is well known for its earthquakes. The Japanese archipelago has indeed experienced innumerable earthquakes throughout its history. The Edo period was no exception and the city suffered earthquakes from time to time. The most devastating of these was the Great Earthquake of Ansei which struck Edo on the 2nd of October in 1855 (the 2nd year of Ansei). Various prints made by kawaraban (news broadsheets), ukiyo-e and pamphlets were printed describing the details of the earthquake.

Edo residents experienced not only earthquakes but also other disasters as well. Fires, such as the 1657 Great Fire of Meireki, had a great impact on the urban planning of Edo, and there was also the Hôei Eruption of Mount Fuji (‘Hôei dai funka’) in 1707 (the 4th year of Hôei) which released volcanic ash, which fell like rain and covered on the while city of Edo. Other than these, there was an increase in rice prices in Edo due to bad weather in the Hokuriku and Tôhoku regions which resulted and poor harvests and this prompted the rioting and collective smashing of houses known as Uchikowashi. Edo residents were not unaffected by disasters that happened throughout Japan.

[Catfish and the Keystone (Namazu to Kanameishi)]
[1855 (Ansei 2)]

* To view more explanation, please click the each image.