Fire Monuments in Eko-in Temple

This is going to be the final story about Eko-in Temple.  The last monument I would like to introduce is the fire monuments.  The origin of this temple is the Great Fire which hit Edo, the current Tokyo downtown area in 1657.  There were several big fire in Tokyo during Edo Era.

According to Wikipedia, during Edo Era from 1601 till 1867, there were as many as 49 big fires in Tokyo.  In other cities, there were fewer fires.  For example in Kyoto, nine times and in Osaka six times so the number in Tokyo was extremely high.  I don’t know what defines “big fires” but smaller fires is said to be as many as 1798 (according to Wikipedia again).

Among the Great Fires, there were three big ones and among them, the fire called Great Fire of Meireki was the biggest one.  (Meireki is the name of the Imperial era.) Wikipedia says that the death tolls were about 107 thousand. Most of the main area of Tokyo was burnt down including the main building of Edo Castle.  Here is the handscroll depicting scenes from the Great Fire of Meireki which is kept at the Edo-Tokyo Museum.

Meireki fire.JPG
By 田代幸春 – 戸火事図巻(江戸東京博物館 Edo-Tokyo Museum :収蔵品), Public Domain, Link

This fire was the greatest in Japanese history except for the fire caused by bombings and earthquakes.  It is also said as one of the three great fires in the world together with the great fire in London and in Rome.

Now go back to Eko-in.  After the Great Fire, Shogun Ietsuna, the ruler of Japan ordered to entomb in one site where Eko-in Temple was built.  After that, the temple accepted to entomb those who deceased by fires, earthquakes, shipwrecks as well as those who died in prison.



This is the grave where people drowned by the water accident happened in 1857 were entombed.  (This is what the gravestone says.)




This tombstone inscribes the year 1829.  This is the year when another fire called Great Fire of Bunsei occured in Tokyo.  About 2,800 people died in this fire and this is the monument for them.


Monument of those who died of fire in 1829.


This is the grave for those who were drawned by the water accident.


A grave of 47 people who died of water accident.


And this is the monument for those who died in prison.


A grave of those who died in prison.

There are several theories how the Great Fire of Meireki started.  Some theories say that the fire started in Honmyo-ji Temple in Sugamo.  Wherever the truth lies, this Honmyo-ji Temple has the Monument of the Great Fire of Meireki.


The story of this temple is also interesting so it’s coming soon!


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