If I Had A Bell

"I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land"
- Peter, Paul, and Mary - the Hammer Song (by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger)

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At the United Nations headquarters in New York City, erected over soil brought from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, stands the World Peace Bell. It was cast in 1952 by Chiyoji Nakagawa, a one-time Mayor of Uwajima in Shikoku (who collected donations of coins from 65 member nations, which were melted to make the bell) and given to the United Nations by the people of Japan in 1954. Today there are 21 replicas around the world, donated over the years, four of them in Japan. One of these bells is at Soya Misaki (Cape Soya), the northern most tip of Hokkaido, near the town of Wakkanai.

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A small bell for visitors to ring at Soya Misaki, next to the World Peace Bell replica (all of which are one full meter in height).

One time newspaper reporter and photographer, Roy Sinclair of New Zealand, was moved by the story of the bell so he and his Japanese partner Haruko, decided to visit the Soya Misaki bell in February of 2001 (temperature: minus 22 C/7.6F) and their journey by train to Wakkanai inspired a newspaper article by the World Peace Bell Association in Tokyo. Roy, an avid cyclist, told the WPBA that he would ride the length of Japan by bicycle for them if they would donate a World Peace Bell to New Zealand.

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Cyclist in Kinosaki, Hyogo Prefecture (click to enlarge)

In 2004, Roy and Haruko (also a bicycle enthusiast, obviously) made the nearly 4,000 km (2485 mile) journey from Soya Misaki in the far north to Sata Misaki at the southern end of Kyushu by bicycle in 71 days.

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Mt. Kaimon-dake, Kagoshima, southern Japan (click to enlarge)

Some of the areas they visited are dear to K and I, particularly Matsumoto City, historic Hida Takayama, and between them, beautiful Kamikochi, a part of Chubu Sangaku National Park high in the Japan Alps. We visited those places ourselves in 2003.

This post is just to give a you peek at this adventure. You can read about their experiences and see pictures of the scenery at the Japan Cycling Navigator website, which I have in my Bicycle Links section. The complete story starts here:

Pedalling Japan - end to end

In addition to enjoying the beautiful pictures and an interesting read, at age 56 I am quite encouraged to find out that Roy was 60 at the time of this ride. Keep on pedalling! It is also inspiring to read about a person who has used his passion for a sport to further a worthy cause.

On October 3, 2006 New Zealand's World Peace Bell was officially unveiled in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens.

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World Peace Bell - Christchurch, New Zealand

The Association hopes that World Peace Bells, which are made from coins and medals of 130 nations around the world which have been melted down and mixed with the bronze, will be installed in the capitals of all nations of the world, and aims at promoting an international peace movement based on the Charter of the UN, transcending political, religious, racial and ideological barriers.

Roy Sinclair is completing a book, "World by Pedal Power", for publishing by Random House NZ later this year. It will include New Zealand, Japan, Britain, France, and Switzerland. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

My thanks to Roy for kindly providing the enlarged images of his pictures of the cyclist in Kinosaki and of Mt. Kaimon-dake used in this post.



Hypatia said...

This is so much fun! Just the type of activity and inspiration for travel I love! Very beautiful pictures as well.

There is someone who makes Japanese types bells out of recycled steel tanks by a local artist, Michael Correll. I've always wanted one, but they are currently too expensive for us.

You can find more info about them here (in the gift store section of Portland's Japanese Garden website)


Hypatia said...

FYI-the website info got cut off:

Swinebread said...

We need more peace right now. That's for sure. Great pictures!

Pandabonium said...

Hypatia - thanks. My dad had a steel scuba tank that had a nice ring to it. I can imagine that if it were opened at the bottom it would make an excellent bell. Those look nice.

Swinebread - I was impressed by Roy's pictures. More on the linked story.

Old Broad said...

Beautiful pictures.
Touching post.
How I wish a Peace Bell were located on the front lawn of the White House.
And the faux prez & vp were required to ring it every single day.

nzm said...

What a fabulous idea - peace bells.

Great post, PB!

Pandabonium said...

Old Broad - you've got that right!

NZM - thank you. Sometimes the direct approach is blocked, but doing a simple act, like the ringing of these bells, can help awaken people (literally and figuratively).