17 January 2005

The Great Hanshin Earthquake, Ten Years After

White Peril reminds us that today is the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which destroyed many of my favorite haunts from high school days (and a few not quite so fondly remembered). At the time of the earthquake, I was auditing a class in Japanese newspaper reading. It was a bit over my head, since I had to learn new vocabulary and grammar as well as how to read new kanji and parse newspaper style. I ended up dropping out.

When I was an elementary school kid living in Kyoto, my mother would take me to Kobe to an orthodontist who had foreigners in his clientele. After every visit, mom would take me to the Texas Tavern down toward the Kobe docks near Sannomiya station, where we invariably ordered hamburgers and root beer. Perhaps for that reason, I've never had any particular fear of dentists.

During high school I spent many a weekend hour at the Alps curry shop near Sannomiya Station, where you could get curry rice for ¥80 (¥100 with raw egg) and a gin fizz for ¥120 (if I remember correctly). Another favorite hangout in Nada-ku closer to Canadian Academy (which has since moved) was the Gomo theater, where you could see a triple feature for ¥90. These were all good ways to stretch a weekly allowance of only ¥600 (about US$1.70 at the time). There was also an okonomiyaki shop near the bottom of Nagamine-dai where you didn't have to pay more than ¥70-¥90 for a filling treat.

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