25th anniversary of Hanshin quake marked with big turnout at memorial service

KOBE (The Japan News/ANN) - Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which ultimately claimed 6,434 lives.

KOBE (The Japan News/ANN) — Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which ultimately claimed 6,434 lives. Areas hit by the disaster were filled with the silent prayers of families who lost loved ones, survivors and others at memorial services held from the early morning.
 Friday is the first Hanshin quake memorial day in the Reiwa era following the change from the Heisei era (1989-2019), which was plagued by a series of disasters.
 As preparations are sought to be made for a massive earthquake that is feared to occur with a focus in the Nankai Trough and another with a focus just below the surface of the Tokyo metropolitan area, victims of the Hanshin disaster and others concerned vowed to continue passing on their memories and lessons from the disaster to future generations at Friday’s events.
 As of 7 a.m. Friday, about 7,500 people had gathered for a memorial service called “1.17 no Tsudoi” (Gathering on Jan. 17) at Kobe East Park in Chuo Ward, Kobe. The number was about 2,000 people higher than last year, given the quarter century anniversary.
 Attendees lit about 5,000 bamboo lanterns to reveal the three hiragana characters for “kizamu” (to take to heart), as well as “1.17,” showing their determination never to forget the disaster. They offered a silent prayer at 5:46 a.m., the time the earthquake occurred.
 At the service, Yoshihiro Ueno, 47, of Higashinada Ward, Kobe, whose mother Michiko died in the disaster at the age of 47, gave a speech as the representative of families who lost loved ones.
 Dedicating the speech to his mother, Ueno said he still runs a sushi shop left to him after her death. “When I close my eyes, I can hear the voice [of my mother] telling me, ‘Yocchan, ganbari, ganbari [hang in there],’” he said.
 As 25 years have passed since the disaster, issues to be addressed include memories of the calamity fading away and the aging of victims.
 One out of every five Kobe citizens was born after the disaster. The number of memorial services this year stood at 60, which is 50 fewer than in the peak year of 2015.

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