Asia. Japan. Kobe. Home to nearly one and a half million people Kobe is famous for its breathtaking views. But land here is at a premium. Kobe is squeezed between the Rocky Mountains and the blue waters of Osaka Bay. The city Centre sits on a narrow strip the bland just five kilometers wide. To the east and west like densely populated residential areas have mostly traditional houses. And to the south its huge port area built on a series of islands created by dumping millions of tons of soil into the sea. It is one of the world’s biggest ports handling $71 billion dollars a cargo a year. To maximize precious space 160 kilometers a Kobe’s modern freeway system stand on pillars above the city.
Monday, January 16th 1995 it is a bright winter’s day the temperature just above freezing. Today is a national holiday and Kobe bustles with people soaking up the holiday atmosphere. Beneath their feet the ground is riddled with faults, these unstable cracks in the earth 20 kilometers below the ground a caused by movement of the earth’s surface. Japan is one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. In Kobe these faults stretch the link to the city center along the foot of the mountains. But Kobe is lucky, fault activity is raining here the city hasn’t seen a major quake in four hundred years. Ten kilometers East of the center is the residential area of Nagashinada. Most of the houses here are a traditional Japanese design with a wooden frame and on a roof tiles. And one of them build fifty years ago lives 59-year-old Yukiko Shona. She shares a home with a Shadashi and her dog. Her five-year-old granddaughter is staying with them for the holiday. Yukiko his live in Kobe all her life, her soul experience about quakes is just a couple of minor tremors.30 kilometers east of Kobe is the Osaka earthquake Observatory. Here scientists monitor part of a network at thousands of seismic sensors spread all over Japan.
Tonight, Toshio Arimoto is on duty with a colleague. In 21 years he is monitored several major earthquakes across the country, but today does not feel like a proper workday. 6:26 p.m. their quiet shift his suddenly interrupted. An earth tremor measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale triggers the center networks. A remotal is fazed Japan talks about 1000 earthquakes a year, and this one’s tiny too small even to rattle the windows. 23 minutes later ground shaking triggers the sensor network again that this channel the smallest still measuring just 2.5. The senses reveal the trainers originate beneath the Apache channel which separates a wedgie island from the mainland. It is 15 kilometers southwest of Kobe. In kobe city people are oblivious to the trellis. Shinju 400 kilometers northeast of Kobe. To a bus driver Yoshio Fukumoto least town heading south. He is been driving buses for 30 years. Fukumoto is destination is Kobe, it is an overnight trip schedule to take 12 hours. 6:55 a third channel this one a 1.5 the scientists are surprised to see three channels in a metric of minutes but Arimoto is still not alarm’s. A Yukiko Shona home in Kobe, her granddaughter develops a fever. Yukiko brings her daughter go agrees that the little girl should go home. Yukiko will not have a granddaughter staying with her tonight.11:49 p.m. after nearly five hours of silence a force trauma shakes the Apache channel. On average there are five channels exceeding magnitude 1.5 in a year there have now been for in just under five and a half hours. 29-year-old Shati Shono keeps his mother Yukiko up past her bedtime, he is keen to show her his latest gadget a laptop computer.
Tuesday, January 17th, 5:45 a.m. to a bus driver your Yoshio Fukumoto is just 15 kilometers from the center of kobe, just three passengers remain on board. He is on the Hanshin expressway 40 kilometre long falling elevated freeway that runs right through Kobe. It is designed to be earthquake-proof but like the rest of the city it is never been put to the test. Fukumoto soon expect to be heading back to his family in nearby on Kyoto. But then the after nearly six hours have been activity the ground beneath the a catchy channel begins to move again. Triggering the senses in the earthquake observatory in Osaka this time it is more than just the drama.