22. Moon and Smoke (Enchu no tsuki)

A fireman stands on a building holding the standard for the second district of Edo. He wears a sashiko, a padded coat soaked with water to protect him against the flames. In the lower right is another matoi (standard bearer) from a rival brigade. In 19th century Japan, crowded towns full of houses constructed of wood and paper were extremely vulnerable to fire. The fire-fighting troops were considered exciting and colorful characters, and enjoyed enormous prestige amongst the general population. (printed February 1886)