Fires were such a common occurrence in Edo that they earned the nickname “flowers of Edo.” Since traditional Japanese buildings were constructed almost entirely of paper and wood, the slightest spark could lead to tragedy. Teams of professional firefighters combatted these frequent disasters. The firemen were colorful characters known for their competitive team spirit, ladder-top acrobatics, and boisterous attitudes. Emblems on their heavily-quilted jackets and matoi (elaborate paper standards) identified each team. In Yoshitoshi’s design, a single fireman considers the scene. Through the smoke in the bottom right corner, a shadowy figure holds the matoi of a rival group, signaling the scale of the blaze. The characters on the fireman’s hood and back indicate that he is a matoi bearer and a member of company one. As the full moon echoes the paper standard, the fireman curls his fingers beneath the water-drenched protective sleeve. To protect themselves from burns, firefighters would soak their heavy garments in water before heading into the flames.