Residents of Kobe, Japan, have been sending out "Kobe 2001 -- Thanks and Welcome" postcards to invite people from around the world to this reborn city, nearly five years after it was seriously damaged by a devastating earthquake in January 1995.
At Phoenix Plaza (
The Kobe earthquake claimed the lives of at least 6,400 people from Kobe City and the surrounding region. Tens of thousands lost their homes. The natural disaster caused losses to the Japanese economy estimated to exceed US$100 billion.
Almost six years after the disaster, however, the image of the devastated Kobe presented in the exhibition is totally different from the reality outside the museum. The modern buildings and quick tempo of city life cause visitors to marvel that post-disaster reconstruction has been carried out so quickly and effectively.
Volunteers at Phoenix Plaza are helping residents to draw postcards or write invitation cards. The festival, called "Kobe 21st Century Restoration Commemorative Project," is scheduled to start on Jan. 17, exactly six years after the earthquake.
The volunteers said that it was time for the residents of Kobe to show their appreciation to people everywhere who assisted them after the earthquake.
Museum on Awaji Island
A joyful rebirth seems to have occurred after a persistent fight against despair. The earthquake, nevertheless, remains a poignant memory for most of those who experienced it.
Death and destruction were not the only legacies of what has become known as the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster (
Before the earthquake, which jolted the Kinki (
During the quake, officially known as the Southern Hyogo earthquake (
In order to preserve the dramatic changes to the topography on Awaji Island caused by the tremor, the Japanese transformed the site, located in the Hokudan-cho earthquake Memorial Park, into the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum.
About 140m of the newly exposed fault line have been preserved and are displayed at the museum's site. The museum has been designated a state-owned property.
"We built the museum as a reminder, which would be helpful to the fields of both scientific research and disaster prevention work. So far, the number of visitors has exceeded 4.6 million," said Hatsuo Hirata (
Visitors can also see explanatory displays, including large panels, models and a miniature theater.
"Japanese scientists have known that the topography of the center of the Kinki area is complex. It includes low lying areas such as Lake Bewa, Osaka Bay and the Kyoto and Nara basins, as well as high mountains such as the Hira, Ikoma and Rokko ranges," said Tomoko Kawayoshi (