On January 17, 1995, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake rocked Kobe, Japan, leaving thousands of people dead and injured in its wake. In the 20 years since the catastrophe, an even bigger quake triggered a tsunami and decimated the Tohoku area, ending the lives of more than double the amount who perished in Kobe.
As a young teenager who had an interest in Japan, news of the 1995 disaster captured my attention, but ultimately it proved to be just a curiosity for me. Traveling to Japan seemed completely beyond my reach, and the island nation was an untold thousands of miles away. How could I possibly relate to it as anything other than an abstract concept?
The 3/11 earthquake and tsunami were an entirely different matter. At the time of the calamity, I was scheduled to move to Japan in two weeks. While the earthquake and tsunami (not to mention the resulting nuclear problems) were a concern, it was not enough for me to reconsider. I was determined to make the transition and begin a new chapter.
My move occurred as scheduled, and I haven’t looked back since. While many foreigners decided to pack their bags and leave Japan, I did the opposite. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
On the 20th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake, everybody around the world should take some time to reflect on our lives. We are all mortal, and what happened two decades ago should serve as a grim reminder. Take nothing in life for granted — always give it 100%.
It could all end tomorrow.