All over this land"
- Peter, Paul, and Mary - the Hammer Song (by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger)
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.