Ever Vigilant Against Fire

Oryu-sui Ever Vigilant Against Fire

  • Period: 1866
  • Material: Wood
  • Dimensions: Height: 91cm, Width:242cm, Depth: 53cm
  • Oryu-sui Ever Vigilant Against Fire
  • An Edo Period Brewery Existing Today Ridge-end Tiles from Kasagiya and Okura Residence
  • Oryu-sui Ever Vigilant Against Fire

Manual fire-fighting pumps were termed “oryu-sui,” or “dragon-belching water.” This one was used in the closing years of the Edo period. There are a lot of stages in making sake when fire is used, such as when steaming the rice or pasteurizing sake. As fire was an ever-present hazard, there would always have to be fire pumps in a brewery.

The Kasagiya mark in the center of the main part is done in black lacquer, and on the side, hot-branded, is an inscription showing the date (1866). At the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, which erupted just two years later in 1868, the town of Fushimi was surrounded by war, and numerous nearby boathouses and merchant houses were lost to the flames. The main Okura Residence, which still stands next door to the Gekkeikan Head Office (Minamihama-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto), was built in 1828 by the eight head of the company, Jiemon Okura. The fierce fighting in town caused fires to reach immediately to the north of the house, just over the road, but the house itself narrowly escaped destruction. Perhaps this very fire pump was used to prevent the fire from spreading, allowing the building to survive to this day.

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