The Great Fire of Meiraki was an opportunity to learn, and also an opportunity to reorganize. The fire was started by a temple’s close proximity to surrounding dwellings, and spread by the closely-built nature of the city and the wood-and-paper construction. Firefighting efforts were hampered by firefighting team with only 21 years’ experience, inadequate equipment, and no experience with a fire of this magnitude. Narrow streets and a lack of disaster planning created chaos for fleeing residents. Many residents were not able to escape the flames because a main river had been left without any bridges, for better military security.
After the fire razed an estimated 70% of Edo, Tokugawa Ieyasu instructed his planners to rebuild the city with wider streets, and to incorporate natural firebreaks to protect Edo Castle. Care was taken to rebuild the merchant center first, boosting the local economy and fuelling the rebuilding. Firefighting and rescue plans, and overall disaster management, began to take shape, and provisions were stored for future need. Temples were reallocated to different areas of the city, farther from flammable dwellings. Canals were constructed, both to facilitate commerce and to provide firefighting water.
Wood and rice paper construction continued to be the Edo norm, and the city was plagued with fires, earthquakes, and tsunamis on a regular basis.