The Japanese Peace Bell at United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
The Japanese Peace Bell is a United Nations peace symbol. Cast on November 24, 1952, it was an official gift of the Japanese people to the United Nations on June 8, 1954. The symbolic bell of peace was donated by Japan to the United Nations at a time when Japan had not yet been officially admitted to the United Nations. The Japanese Peace Bell was presented to the United Nations by the United Nations Association of Japan.
The Tada Factory in Japan completed the bell on United Nations Day. It was cast by Chiyoji Nakagawa, and was modelled on the Banzai Bell of Peace that he created for Uwajima Temple. Nakagawa subsequently founded the World Peace Bell Association. The bell went briefly to Osaka, Japan as part of Osaka Expo 70 and was later returned to its permanent location in New York City at 42nd Street and First Avenue, inside UN territory grounds.
Renzo Sawada, the United Nations Japanese Observer, presented the bell to the United Nations Organization. At the time of the presentation, Sawada commented that "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."
Japanese inscriptions on the Japanese Peace Bell of the United Nations Headquarters, New York City.
The bell weighs 116kg, with a height of 1m, and 0.6m in diameter at the base. The metal in the bell itself was obtained from coins donated by delegates of 60 nations who were attending the 13th General Conference of United Nations Associations held in Paris, France in 1951. The coins were collected from the delegates by children.
Inscribed on one side of the bell are the Japanese characters that say: Long live absolute world peace 世界絶対平和萬歳.
A wooden hammer was presented to the United Nations in 1977. A bell cord blessed by Shinto priests was also presented to the United Nations on Earth Day, March 20, 1990.
The Japanese Peace Bell of the United Nations headquarters in New York City is housed in a Japanese cypress wooden structure resembling a traditional Shinto shrine. The whole structure is supported by a base of stone donated by Israel.
Events and function
Sounding the bell
Traditionally, the Japanese Peace Bell is rung twice a year. It is tolled on the first day of Spring at the time of the vernal equinox, in celebration of the annual Earth Day ceremony initiated by Earth Day Founder, John McConnell.
It is also tolled on every opening day of the UN General Assembly's yearly session in September, coinciding with the International Day of Peace established by the General Assembly in 1981. This occasion is observed by the Secretary-General.
The bell was tolled on October 4, 1966 during the Feast Day of St. Francis, marking the one year anniversary of Pope Paul VI's official visit to the United Nations.
The Bell is infrequently tolled on other special occasions.
In 1994, a special ceremony marked the fortieth anniversary of the Japanese Peace Bell. During the occasion, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali reiterated that
"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 Japanese Peace Bell, as seen from inside the UN headquarters building in New York City.
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.
Other Japanese Peace Bells
More than twenty Peace Bell copies were donated by the Japanese World Peace Bells Association around the world:
- Cape Sōya, Hokkaidō, Japan, 1988
- Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan, 1988
- Ankara, Turkey, 1989
- Berlin, Germany, 1989
- Warsaw, Poland, 1989 (stolen in 2002, replaced 2015)
- Osaka, Japan, 1990
- Tacubaya, Mexico City, Mexico, 1990
- Cowra, New South Wales, Australia, 1992
- Ulan Bator, Mongolia, 1993
- Quezon City, Philippines, 1994
- Vienna International Centre, Austria, 1995
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1996
- Brasília, Brasil, 1997
- Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1998
- Quito, Ecuador, 1999
- Los Angeles, California, USA, 2001
- Alcobendas, Community of Madrid, Spain, 2003
- Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2003
- Amagasaki, Japan, 2005
- Christchurch, New Zealand, 2006
- Mount Hiei, Ōtsu, Japan, 2007
- San Francisco, Argentina, 2014