10. The Great Fire Of Meireki
According to the story, in January 1657, Edo (modern-day Tokyo) was plagued with tuberculosis. A particular kimono seemed to be spreading the disease, as three successive owners died from TB after wearing it. On January 18, a Buddhist monk set the garment on fire. A gust of wind snatched it away, and it set the temple roof ablaze. The fire was said to have spread from there, giving the fire its other name—the “long-sleeved kimono fire.”
When the fire was finally extinguished two days later, around 60 percent of the city was gone, and the death toll was estimated to be as high as 100,000, around a third of the city’s population at the time. Edo was transformed radically after the fire, doubling in size and laid out under new guidelines to prevent future fires.