TOYOOKA, Hyogo -- Jan. 17 will mark 26 years since the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that claimed 6,434 lives. One elderly couple who lost their 27-year-old son to the disaster still hang on to their son's key chain with a photo of him attached to it. The wear on its tattered leather tells of the long years.
Etsuo and Asaki Adachi, 88 and 84 respectively, live in the city of Toyooka, in northern Hyogo Prefecture. The disaster mainly hit the prefecture's southern area including the capital of Kobe; at the time the earthquake struck, their oldest son Shinya and his wife Tomiko, then 25 and married for around four months, were living in an apartment in the city's Nada Ward.
The building was completely destroyed, and their bodies found two days later. Shinya was lying down as if trying to protect Tomiko. Amid Asako's sorrow, she took some solace in the thought of Shinya having a strong sense of responsibility and kindness to the end.
His effects were returned to the family one month after the disaster. Now, Shinya's parents always carry the key chain with them in the sentiment that they are always together. Speaking to the Mainichi Shimbun, Asako stroked the key chain and said, "I feel like I might see Shinya again someday."
(Japanese original by Kenji Ikai, Osaka Photo Department)