Tokyo has a long and storied history, and yet little of it can be traced back to when the city became the country’s de facto capital under the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603.

This is largely the consequence of a need to rebuild the city constantly following frequent periods of destruction. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the firebombing of Tokyo in the final months of World War II are the two most obvious examples, and yet its residents have also survived massive conflagrations on a regular basis.

Between the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 that eventually allowed Tokugawa Ieyasu to establish the shogunate three years later and the Meiji Restoration of 1868, historians estimate that Edo (present-day Tokyo) experienced anywhere between 49 and 85 large fires that devastated vast swathes of land.