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26 years since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster – continuing to relay memories to future generations

There are said to be 1500 earthquakes occurring all over Japan in a year that people can feel. In other words, on average, 5 times a day. Even so, it is far from a normalized event in everyday life, and it is frightening every time.

This talks about the horror of the great earthquake that occurred in the Hanshin-Awaji area on January 17, 1995, and the subsequent reconstruction.

The sake brewery that was in Nada Ward

This earthquake, called the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster, occurred at 5:46 in the morning, when many people were still asleep. The epicenter was in the Akashi Strait off the northern part of Awaji Island (or Tarumi Ward, Kobe City) in Hyogo Prefecture, and the huge earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 caused enormous damage. The quake changed the lives of many, and killed about 6,500 people.

The front of JR Shin-Nagata Station, which was destroyed by the earthquake

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster destroyed many of the houses in Kobe, but it did not stop there; the Hanshin Expressway, which is a large structure connecting Osaka and Kobe, collapsed, and those scenes had a great impact around the world.

Collapse and repair of Hanshin Expressway

Although the earthquake caused great damage, Kobe has been on a strong path to recovery. Today, after more than 20 years, Kobe has become a beautiful city where people can live happily. However, we cannot forget this event that claimed many precious lives.

The front of the above JR Shin-Nagata Station rebuilt, 1999

This photo is of the Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park in Meriken Park, which is also a landmark of Kobe. A part of the damage caused by the earthquake is preserved as it was, and the park continues to relay memories of the earthquake and its victims to future generations, as well as records of its restoration and reconstruction.

Furthermore, since 1995, the year of the earthquake, a week-long event has been held called “Kobe Luminarie”, in which the streets and squares of the Former Foreign Settlement area of Kobe are decorated with illuminations. It is an important event held every December as it relays memories of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster to the next generation, and symbolizes the dreams and hopes of the city of Kobe and its citizens.

Everyone who walks about 1km from Motomachi Station, decorated with wonderful illuminations, to Kobe East Park, will remember this event and be given dreams and hopes.

In addition to “Kobe Luminarie,” there are still things in Kobe that give a sense of the earthquake even today. At the moment of the earthquake, many clocks stopped at 5:46. In Kobe, there are still some places where the clocks still hang so as not to let us forget about the earthquake. One of them was the clock that hung on the clocktower at the Akashi Municipal Planetarium in Hyogo Prefecture and controlled Japan Standard Time, but now it is installed at Kobe Gakuin University and has been restarted with the idea that “As time moves forward, so will we.”

Marina Statue, Kobe East Park

The clock from the clocktower now at Kobe Gakuin University that used to control Japan Standard Time. This clock stopped when the earthquake struck, but was restarted with the idea of “moving forward.”

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Even now, on January 17th every year, a “Vigil for the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake 1.17” is held, and at 5:46, the time of the earthquake, silent prayers are offered to the victims.

“Vigil for the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake 1.17”

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Kobe is a strong city that has survived the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster and looks towards the future without losing its dreams and hopes. As introduced in this article, there are many spots in Kobe that still give a sense of the earthquake. Why not make a visit there?