Earthquake Memorial Park
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Earthquake Memorial Park

On January 17, 1995, at 5:46 in the morning, Kobe was walloped by an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale—or 6.8 on the moment magnitude scale, which is more frequently used in Japan. It was the strongest quake to hit the country since 1923 (although barely a tremble compared to 2011’s magnitude-9 quake in Fukushima), destroying huge parts of the city, killing 5,480 people, injuring more than 90,000 and causing the evacuation of more than 300,000. The quake was centered offshore, so the harbor took the brunt of it, with land shifting as much as five meters (16 feet). More than 192,000 buildings were destroyed. The memorial park is an area that looks exactly as the quake left it, and offers a good chance to see just how strong these things are—and how fragile the works of man. Nearby is the Earthquake Memorial Museum, for those who want to know even more.

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