Naka-shi, Japan, Oak Ridge’s sister city for 25 years, recently made a major contribution for the newly designed Peace Pavilion to house the International Friendship Bell in Bissell Park.
Residents of the City of Naka contributed almost $10,000 for the new Peace Pavilion when an Oak Ridge Sister City delegation visited the Japanese city this summer. Oak Ridge City Council member Rick Chinn accepted the check on behalf of Oak Ridge.
Chinn presented the check to Pat Postma and Alan Tatum, co-chairs of the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell Advisory Committee, at the August welcome reception for Naka-shi students and chaperones celebrating the sister cities’ 25th anniversary. The advisory committee is spearheading the fundraising campaign for the Peace Pavilion and plans to formally kick off the campaign in November.
Masami Kinefuchi, Consul-General of Japan based in Nashville, spoke at the Jefferson Middle School reception hosted by the Oak Ridge Sister City Support Organization, welcoming guests from Japan and representing Japan during the ceremonies. He said he hoped Oak Ridge would be the home of the international friendship between Japan and the United States.
“The sister city relationship between Oak Ridge and Naka is a beautiful example of what the Bell symbolizes: a sustained peace and friendship, particularly between the United States and Japan,” Tatum said as he expressed appreciation for the contribution.
“We are humbled and most grateful to have the support of our friends in Naka as we construct a new, expanded Peace Pavilion to house the International Friendship Bell, which was cast in Kyoto, Japan, over 20 years ago,” Tatum added. “This magnificent bronze bell was envisioned by our own Shigeko Uppuluri and her late husband, Ram, as a fitting commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Oak Ridge.”
The City of Naka Mayor Toru Umino and Kiyohide Takahata, chairman of the Naka International Exchange Association, collected donations in Naka for the bell’s Peace Pavilion. Many Naka residents contributed to this symbol of international peace in Oak Ridge.
The International Friendship Bell and its new Peace Pavilion are expected to have a major role in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge. National Park Service officials expect the park to draw more than 70,000 visitors a year, and the bell will be a visible symbol of the peaceful relationship that developed between the United States and Japan after World War II.
“The community of Oak Ridge and the designers of the Bell—in the words of bell designer Susanna Harris—sought to create a ‘monument to represent the resolve of both national to maintain peace between our nations and the world,’” Postma said. “In recognition of that intent, we will call our new home for the bell the Peace Pavilion.”
Deterioration of the pavilion housing the bell was discovered in mid-2014, and an Advisory Committee was soon formed to plan a replacement and raise funds for the new pavilion. Architect Ziad Demian, of Washington, D.C., developed striking designs for a new Peace Pavilion, Postma explained, and recently the Advisory Committee has recommended a site for the bell and pavilion on a level site in Bissell Park that would be more visible and more convenient to parking for National Park visitors.
The committee hopes to raise $700,000 for the new Peace Pavilion, the surrounding Japanese and Tennessee gardens, and night lighting for the pavilion and bell. Envisioned as an inviting space for residents and visitors to come ring the International Friendship Bell, the pavilion and surrounding gardens will offer a gathering place for community events as well as quiet spaces for contemplation.
Contributions may be made by check to the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Foundation, with “For Bell Project” on the check’s memo line. To see the eight different donor levels for supporting the Bell, go to http://friendshipbell.com and click on “Donate.”
Checks may be mailed to the attention of David Carr, Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, P.O. Box 6331, Oak Ridge, TN 37831. Online donations may be made at the website listed above. The foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
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