Events were held on Thursday morning to mark the 24th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Hyogo Prefecture.
The earthquake, which struck at 5:46 a.m. on Jan 17, 1995, killed 6,434 people in Hyogo Prefecture and neighboring areas.
A ceremony was held in the rain Higashi Yuenchi Park in Kobe where 7,000 bamboo lanterns were lit and placed in the figures 1.17 (the date of the quake) and the kanji character hikari (light) in memory of the victims.
Meanwhile, in a park in Itami, 6,434 candles were lit to honor the dead.
The 7.3 quake buried residents in flattened buildings and uprooted highway overpasses and train tracks, while fires raged through collapsed timber houses and acrid smoke darkened the sky.
Heavy damage to the harbor area, where nearly all of the 300 shipping berths were destroyed, dealt a severe blow to the city's economy, sparking a population exodus over the following months and years.
About 40% of Kobe's residents were either born after the quake or moved to the city in the years following the disaster, according to city officials. Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto said it was important to pass on memories of that day to the next generation.© Japan Today