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Photo By: PIXTA/ LOCO
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kobe
Population
5,550,742

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum

A museum that commemorates the earthquake and educates on disaster risk prevention.

By Whitney Hubbell

At 5:46 AM on January 17, 1995, a massive earthquake struck the coastal city of Kobe and the surrounding area. More than 5,000 people were killed, tens of thousands more were injured, and almost 250,000 homes were destroyed by the earthquake and resulting fires.

This earthquake came to be called the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and in the following years, massive reconstruction efforts were undertaken. These efforts created some of the most important elements of Kobe we see today, including the iconic Port Tower and the surrounding Harborland area. The area recovered so well that the metaphor of rising from the ashes like a phoenix is often used to describe it. The Hyogo Prefecture mascot was even chosen with this in mind: Habatan is a phoenix, symbolizing the area’s recovery and renewed vigor. Of course, the memories of the great earthquake live on, and the recovery efforts included a museum to commemorate the earthquake.

History and Purpose

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum

Photo by: 人と防災未来センター Learn about the earthquakes through real-life accounts.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial opened in 2002 not only to commemorate the earthquake and those who lost their lives in the disaster, but also to serve as an education center focusing on earthquakes and disaster prevention. The exhibit and museum facilities use various resources and media to demonstrate the earthquake’s power and teach about disaster prevention.

Visitors to the museum can expect to see footage of the earthquake on a theater screen and experience a recreation of the powerful earthquake made through special effects and computer graphics. They can also watch a documentary and see various other materials on the recovery process and play interactive games to learn about natural disasters and disaster prevention. Additionally, the museum gives a space to many individual accounts through materials like donated diaries and even has a storyteller’s corner where those who lived through the earthquake can share their stories.

Facilities

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum

Photo by: 人と防災未来センター Check out the different facilities at the museum to learn more about disaster prevention.

This museum is part of a greater institution, the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI). The DRI researches disaster risk reduction and aims to spread knowledge and technology related to its research. Several other facilities are also part of the institution.

There is the Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute, which aims to shed light on the challenges that large earthquakes pose to modern civilization and to create safe communities through its research on regional policy issues. Other offices include other disaster and recovery centers, environmental management and conservation centers and two regional United Nations offices related to disaster prevention and humanitarian affairs.

Things To Know

HOURS AND FEES

Admission to the museum is ¥600. Opening hours are 9:30 A.M. until 5:30 P.M. every day except Mondays and the New Year holidays on December 31st and January 1 (if a Monday is a national holiday, the museum will be open that day and be closed the following day).

The museum is accessible to foreign visitors. Team members and volunteers can not only speak English and Japanese but also Japanese Sign Language and several other foreign languages. They wear armbands which indicate the languages they can speak.

How To Get There

By train

The museum is a 15-minute walk from JR Nada station and a ten minute walk from Hanshin Iwaya station. From JR Sannomiya station to Nada station it takes just three minutes and costs ¥140, and from Hanshin Sannomiya station to Iwaya station it takes four minutes and ¥160. 

The museum is also located right next to the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.


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