A memorial service is held to mark the 24th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake at Higashi Yuenchi park in Kobe’s Chuo Ward on Jan. 17. (Video footage by Yoshinori Mizuno and Satoru Ogawa)

KOBE--A memorial service was held here to mark the 24th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which killed 6,434 people and devastated the city and the surrounding area.

Visitors to Higashi Yuenchi park in the city's Chuo Ward offered silent prayers at 5:46 a.m., the same time that the magnitude-7.3 megaquake struck the city on Jan. 17, 1995.

Kobe residents renewed their pledge to pass on lessons learned from the disaster to future generations.

The message "1995 tsunagu (connect) 1.17” was lit up in large characters from 5 a.m., using more than 8,000 lanterns made from bamboo and plastic bottles.

The phrase was decided on after taking suggestions from the public.

About 5,500 people had visited the site as of about 7 a.m.

"Many young people who did not experience the earthquake said they want to convey the memory and lessons to future generations," said Shinichi Fujimoto, a representative of the event's organizer. "My role is to help provide opportunities for people to think about earthquakes."

In the first commemorative event to be held in Tokyo, a venue will be set up at a small music hall at Hibiya Park in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, with prayers set to start at 5:46 p.m.