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This year, thousands of Japanese around the country celebrated Coming-of-Age Day. In Kobe, however, the occasion was especially poignant, as those who will turn 20 this year were just days old or, most likely, born after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of Jan. 17, 1995. The first generation of adults who never experienced the event firsthand has officially arrived.

For those of us who lived through the quake, it remains one of the defining moments of our lives. The experience changed the way we saw Kobe, the Kansai region, and Japan itself. Like the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, it demolished official lies that had become articles of faith.

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