The Peace Bell
On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb destroyed much of the city of Hiroshima and within a fraction of a second annihilated tens of thousands of people. The horrifying mushroom cloud signified for all time that humans were now capable of wiping their own planet from the face of the universe.
Since this tragedy, on August 6 of every year, the city of Hiroshima has been holding a commemorative peace ceremony to remember the past and exorcise its demons. A representative of the victims’ families and a child voice hopes for world peace while sounding a bell, a gift from the artist Masahiko Katori.
From Hiroshima to Montreal
In Montreal, the Peace Ceremony commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima is held on the evening of August 5 every year, at the Botanical Garden. In Japan, where it is already August 6, thousands of Japanese gather every year in Peace Park, at the same time. The Montréal bell is sounded throughout the day on August 6 – once for every year since 1945, reflecting the bonds between our tow cities.
The city of Hiroshima has signed a treaty of friendship and peace with the city of Montréal, recognizing their shared philosophy – for Montreal declared itself a “nuclear weapon free city” in 1986. The Peace Bell is a symbol of this treaty.
Let hope ring out
Based on an original design by Masahiko Katori, the Peace Bell was cast by the artist’s leading disciple, Musho Negoro, and modelled on the one in Peace Park, in Hiroshima, it is made entirely of bronze and weighs close to 190 kg.
The bell actually has no clapper. To sound it, it must be struck from the outside with a massive wooden hammer. The bell is struck directly on the atomic energy symbol, while a mirror on the other side reflects the bell ringer’s soul.
The city of Hiroshima has presented peace bells to five other cities with which it has signed friendship treaties: Volgograd, Russia (1985); Hanover, Germany (1985); Honolulu, United States (1985); Chongqing, People’s Republic of China (1986); and Taegu, South Korea (1997).
After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, lotus leaves were placed on the victims’ burns to ease their pain. In the pond that rings Peace Park in Hiroshima, lotus plants bloom every year around August 6. They are said to soothe the victims’ souls.
The city of Hiroshima presented this bell to the city of Montréal as a symbol of eternal friendship and peace, to mark the twinning of the two cities, in 1998. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec.com
In Montreal, the Peace Ceremony commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima is held on the evening of August 5 every year, at the Botanical Garden. Photo: © ProvinceQuebec.com