Dondon-yake (どんどん焼け)

Dondon-yake is the fire that broke out in the city of Kyoto at the end of the Edo period from August 19 to 21, 1864. It is said that the word 'Dondon' comes from the appearance of the quickly spreading fire or the sound of gunfire because the fire broke out in the Kinmon Incident.

It started at the residence of Choshu Domain (currently around the Kyoto Hotel Okura) in the Kinmon Incident. The fire spread extensively over the area west to south-east of the current Kyoto Gyoen and 27,000 houses were burned out.

Kyoto Gyoen escaped the fire but the city was completely devastated, which made a reason for the Emperor Meiji to visit Tokyo.

Many temples including Higashihongan-ji Temple and Honno-ji Temple were reduced to ashes.

The fire dealt a serious blow to townspeople who had been supporting the economy in Kyoto. The Gion-matsuri Festival, which was led by townspeople, was suspended the next year. It was revived two years later but was scaled down. Other than the reasons such as the loss of Yamahoko floats, economic consideration is said to have been the decisive factor.

Most prisoners in Rokkaku prison house were beheaded, instead of being released, by prison officers for fear of spreading flames (see the Rokkaku prison house for further details).

[Original Japanese]