The Great Hanshin Earthquake
At 5:46 a.m. on January 17, 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit the Osaka-Kobe area with an unprecedented magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale. The collapsed section of the Hanshin Expressway, now famous through footage and photos carried by the media, was only about 2km from Nunobiki Manufacturing’s headquarters.
There, the wire ED machine had broken through the outer wall, and all the dies had fallen from the shelves, so there was nowhere to walk. The building was initially classified as “completely destroyed” by the Kobe municipal government, but on closer scrutiny the factory building structure seemed safe due to its reinforced, column-structure design. Even though few dies survived, most of the presses, die machines, and fabrication machines remained unscathed and unaffected. When the Kobe municipal inspectors came to conduct their on-site inspection, they were hesitant at first to enter, but once inside they deemed the building safe from collapsing and changed the classification to “partially destroyed.” The foresight when designing the factory, seven years earlier, had paid off.
Collapsed Hanshin Expressway
Even so, Kobe’s Higashinada Ward, where headquarters is located, was without electricity and water. But the Futami Factory was able to reopen around two weeks after the earthquake. Since it was built on an artificial island, liquefaction was inevitable, but the building suffered little damage due to its reinforced, column structure. So it was easier to plan a date to resume production.
Since staff members were concerned about the welfare of their families, the headquarters factory temporarily operated between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., bringing water from a nearby water station in steady preparation for production to slowly resume.
In the meantime, we received many calls from customers concerned with our safety; some even bringing relief supplies. Thanks to this support, Nunobiki Manufacturing was one of the first factories to reopen in the area. When the sounds of the presses were heard coming from the factory, the surprised, local residents come for a look. Even the media came to cover the news.