In episode 49 of the Just Japan Podcast, host Kevin O’Shea takes a look at the Great Hanshin Earthquake, otherwise known as the Kobe Earthquake. It happened 20 years ago this year. On January 17th, 1995 at 5:46 am, an unpredicted and devastating earthquake hit the city of Kobe.
Old traditional-style houses collapsed with their sleeping residents still inside. Gas lines ruptured causing massive fires and broken water lines meant fire fighters were helpless to battle many of the infernos throughout the city. When it was over, 6434 people where dead and one of the most modern cities and busiest ports in Japan lay in ruins.
20 years later, Kobe is again booming and there are almost no signs of the earthquake. Kevin talks to two people who experienced the earthquake first-hand. Caterina was a young elementary school student in Kobe at the time and remembers waking up to a shaking house and her mother covering her to protect her from falling objects.
Mai, who lived in nearby Osaka at the time of the earthquake recounts that early morning and her memories of traveling to university in Kobe months later, passing through shattered areas of the city.
The Kobe Earthquake was one of the worst natural disasters in modern times. This being the 20th anniversary, it’s important that we remember this important historical event.
This was a special episode for host Kevin O’Shea since he has called Kobe his home throughout his entire time in Japan.