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25th anniversary of Great Hanshin Earthquake observed

15 Comments

Events were held on Friday morning to mark the 25th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Hyogo Prefecture.

The magnitude 7.3 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 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.

Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko attended a memorial ceremony held by the Hyogo prefectural government on Friday morning.

The 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.


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15 Comments
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I remember studying about the Great Hanshin earthquake in geography at school, and even as a kid I found the photos (of the fires and collapsed expressway) shocking.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

My remembrances to the families of all those who lost relatives, friends and colleagues on that horrible day 25 years ago. As well as those that literally had to rebuild everything. I cannot believe it has been a quarter of a century.

I remember it well. Living in Tokyo in a high rise apartment building, was just waking up for work and there was just the slightest of swaying in our very tall apartment building. I headed off to work, thinking nothing of it, and it was only after a couple of hours that the news really started to get out just how great the earthquake and its destruction was.

Much has been written about the ineptitude of the government in responding to the disaster. However, I just want to remember all those who lost their lives and all those whose lives were forever changed by this disaster.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Until end of last year we lived in Kobe City for 17 years and attended the yearly memorial for the victims. Tragic event but I think the people became stronger from it and Kobe a better city to live. But there are still victims who had lost a limb or traumatised by the experience or the loss of a loved one. There are adults who lost their class mates.

The city has a commercial port never recovered to the pre disaster levels.

We still visit and next month I will have an op at a Kobe Hospital.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The Daishinsai is like yesterday. I remember not having running water for 20 days. But the most vivid memories are of wrecked houses, many of them honored with flowers of remembrance outside what used to be the gentians. One flattened house that I saw from the bus particularly moved me. White curtains with pictures of Micky Mouse stuck out like dead tongues from what were once windows. There was a family life there once, a simple life but likely a happy life, I guess. And now it was gone. The next time I passed by that spot the entire wrecked house had been taken away. Dump trucks formed conveys to take the remains of broken homes to some dump. I believed the memory of Kobe as it was just after 17 January 1995 had to be remembered--photographed, recorded and archived.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I think I remember reading that something like 80 or 90 percent of the houses that collapsed were built before 1971, when construction codes were introduced. At least that's encouraging for anyone living in a building less than 50 years old.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We lived not far from the epicenter at the time and got shaken up significantly, but not hurt. It was amazing to be active in the relief effort and to watch the city recover and be rebuilt so quickly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We didn't move to Kobe until 2002 but then we lived in a 100 year very large 10K wooden house which was well built with huge timbers and withstood the quake while all around, newer houses collapsed. The building codes were updated after the 1995 quake and also again after the Tohoku disasters. There are free earthquake inspections from the local government for home owners.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We lived in Nada Ku, Kobe and had just sold the flat and moved 150 km away. My wife complained endlessly that we should not have sold the damn thing, which was irritating to say the least, as if she was somehow blaming me, but on the morning that we were woken up by that powerful jolt, and as we saw the emerging footage on TV, she suddenly said how glad she was that we had sold it.

Heard so many sad and horrific stories from people. Can’t believe it has been 25 years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I first arrived in Japan in 1999 in Kobe, just 4 years after the quake. The destruction had been cleared up by then but rebuilding was still ongoing in some areas and pretty much everyone I met during my first year living there had their own story about the quake, some of them quite harrowing.

Really great city, such a terrible tragedy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think I remember reading that something like 80 or 90 percent of the houses that collapsed were built before 1971, when construction codes were introduced. At least that's encouraging for anyone living in a building less than 50 years old.

Its actually 1981. Important to get that right for anyone shopping for a used house!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

RIP to all those who perished and condolences to their familiy and friends.

I had just returned the evening of the 16th from xmas back home and was woken by the sound of the air conditioner unit trying to rip itself off the wall above the bed from the violent shaking.

This was in Nagoya too by the way, (about 200k/s away) so that will give you some idea of the size of that quake. The news the next day was incredible scenes of fires and destruction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My memories were that in Tokyo life carried on as normal. It was in the news for a week or so but nothing like the Tohoku earthquake. It seemed to me that the authorities were trying to play the incident down. I’d be interested to hear others recollections from Tokyo.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I was then living in Walnut Creek, in the Bay Area of San Francisco, CA, where I had experienced the mid-'80's major earthquake. Watching the news on TV...I never felt so helpless. Now I live in Tokyo, but lived in Sumoto, Awaji-shima in 2005 or so. The visit to the Hanshin Earthquake Museum was illuminating, as well as many stories from the locals of the event, some of whom were still not able to return to their damaged homes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There was nothing GREAT about it...I remember it vividly, because I had arrived home on the first train and was still awake when it hit..if I remember right, we felt it as a 4-5 ? even in Katsushika Ku, on the East side of Tokyo...watched Kobe burn for weeks...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Watching Kobe burn for nearly a month, will certainly make you re-think all the small ones you may wake up to in the middle of the night.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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