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Kobe (kōˈbā) [key], city (1990 pop. 1,477,410), capital of Hyogo prefecture, S Honshu, Japan, on Osaka Bay. One of the leading Japanese ports, it is also a major industrial center and railway hub. It is part of a transportation network, which includes express trains and highways, that links it to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya. It has shipbuilding yards, vehicle factories, iron and steel mills, sugar refineries, and chemical, rubber, and food-processing plants. A cultural center, Kobe has several colleges and universities and many temples and shrines. Since 1878 the city has included Hyogo (formerly Hiogo), an ancient port that was prominent during the Ashikaga period (14th–16th cent.) and regained importance after it was reopened to foreign trade in 1868. Kobe was heavily bombed during World War II but was rebuilt and enlarged, with much commercial building taking place on landfill in Osaka Bay. In Jan., 1995, Kobe suffered a devastating earthquake that killed more than 6,400 people. Much of the port was destroyed; total damages were estimated at over $100 billion.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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