The song for Hyogo Prefecture was "Wakareta Hito to" (With My Old Flame) which was created by Ei and Izumi in 1966. Sung with sighing wistfulness by Duke Aces, the song relates of a story of two former lovers meeting once again in the city of Kobe and perhaps kindling something out of a long-dormant spark. I could imagine a lot of couples dancing to this one in the small space of the bars that could afford some sort of dance floor.
Twenty years ago on January 17, the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the city of Kobe and the surrounding vicinity, killing over 6,000 people and injuring many many more. I'd had the day off on that Tuesday in 1995 and was only a few months into my long stay in the Kanto region. When I turned on my tiny ancient television, I saw the now-infamous scene of that highway fallen onto its side and initially thought I was watching some sort of disaster movie. Unfortunately, it was all too real. My relatives lived in nearby Osaka so I immediately called them up to make sure they were OK. Luckily, though they received the jolt of their lives, they were otherwise fine. Still at the time, I could only look on horror at the destruction and the realization that thousands of families had been tragically affected. Judging from some of the news reports that I've seen on NHK yesterday and today, the scars still remain but Kobe and its citizens have come back up from the devastation.
Kobe （神戸）is a beautiful city with one of the major Chinatowns in the country, the Kitano Ijinkan（北野異人館）district behind Sannomiya Station filled with its wonderful Meiji and Taisho Era architecture, and the modern Port Island area which perhaps may have been inspiration to those who created the Odaiba district in Tokyo Bay. In my 1981 trip and 1989 stint on the JET Programme, I had the opportunities to visit the city. For the former trip, my classmates and I got to go to Port Island and witness some of the panda mania that gripped the country while for the latter, I actually got to see more of the city since the JET Renewers' Conference took place at the Portopia Hotel on that island.
Unfortunately, I never got to visit the city during my longest stay in Japan and after the earthquake, something that I still regret. But perhaps on the next trip, I will set my sights (and financial situation) higher and visit some of those areas way beyond the borders of Tokyo.