The Japanese Peace Bell (cast on October 24, 1952) was a gift of the people of Japan ("People of Nippon") to the United Nations on June 8, 1954 (despite that Japan had not yet been admitted to the United Nations). It was presented to the United Nations by the United Nations Association of Japan. The Peace Bell is housed in a Japanese cypress wood structure, resembling a Shinto shrine, in New York City at 42nd Street and First Avenue. Israel donated the base of stone for the structure. Inscribed, in Japanese, are the words (on one side of the bell):
- "Long live absolute world peace"
The bell weighs 116 kg, is 1 m high and 0.6 m in diameter at the base. The metal in the bell was obtained from coins donated by the delegates of the 60 nations (from coins collected by children) attending the 13th General Conference of United Nations Associations held in Paris in 1951. Renzo Sawada, the United Nations Japanese Observer, presented the bell. Sawada stated at that time:
- "The bell embodies the aspiration for peace not only of the Japanese but of the peoples of the entire world. Thus it symbolized the universality of the United Nations."
A wooden hammer was presented in 1977. A bell cord was presented (and blessed by Shinto priests) on March 20, 1990 (Earth Day).
Traditionally, the bell is rung twice a year:
- First day of Spring - Vernal Equinox
- Opening day of the General Assembly's yearly session (September).
The bell was tolled on October 4, 1966 (the Feast Day of St. Francis, which marked the one year anniversary of Pope Paul VI's visit to the United Nations).
In 1994, a ceremony marking the fortieth anniversary of the Japanese Bell occurred. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said at the ceremony:
- "Whenever it has sounded, this Japanese Peace Bell has sent a clear message. The message is addressed to all humanity. Peace is precious. It is not enough to yearn for peace. Peace requires work -- long, hard, difficult work."
The bell is the setting for the annual Earth Day ceremony (initiated by Earth Day Founder, John McConnell).
The Tada Factory in Japan completed the bell on United Nations Day (and it was cast by Chiyoji Nakagawa). The bell went briefly to Osaka, Japan as part of Expo 1970 and then returned to its permanent New York location.
A stamp series of the Japanese Peace Bell, designed by Ole Hamann of Denmark, was issued in 1970 as part of the United Nations Postal Service's Art at the United Nations series. The stamps were printed by the Government Printing Bureau of Tokyo.
Last updated: 05-07-2005 18:08:56
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04