The International Friendship Bell


In the early 1990s, after a community-wide solicitation and review of several proposals for major projects to provide a lasting legacy for Oak Ridge's 50th Birthday Celebration, the Oak Ridge Community Foundation's Board of Directors --- more than 30 community representatives --- approved the International Friendship Bell as one such project. The Friendship Bell was selected for the following important reasons:

The project exemplifies the spirit of the City's celebration theme, Born of war, living for peace, growing through science.

The project commemorates and honors those dedicated workers of the Manhattan Project, 1942-1946, whose unprecedented human, technological, and scientific contributions ended the tragedy of World War II and formed a basis for strength that later helped end the Cold War, as well. Because of Oak Ridge's role in the Manhattan Project, the bell incorporates key dates that reflect the history that was made more than 50 years ago --- from Pearl Harbor through Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to V-J Day and the end of World War II.

The bell is an expression of the hope for everlasting peace, friendship, and understanding among all people of the world. In keeping with its message promoting global goodwill and cooperation, the Foundation specifically chose "International Friendship Bell" as the project title. It has been supported principally by private donations from Oak Ridgers, as well as contributors from the United States, Japan, and other countries. More than $200,000 in contributions and in-kind services made the project possible.

Although international in its message, the bell specifically incorporates the Oak Ridge-Japan historical link because the initial concept was suggested by Oak Ridger and Japanese-American Shigeko Uppuluri and her late husband Ram. It is historically relevant for our community, and the project has been supported strongly in both countries.

Replica of The International Friendship Bell Replica of The International Friendship Bell

      The Friendship Bell is a traditional Japanese bell, approximately 4.8 feet in diameter and 6.7 feet tall. It weighs approximately 1,000 kan, about 3,750 kilograms or 8,250 pounds, and is cast of solid bronze (about 85 percent copper and 15 percent tin). The bell design includes both ancient Japanese and modem American elements, and was cast by Soutetsu Iwasawa, a bellmaker in Japan. The bas-reliefs on the bell were designed in America by former Oak Ridger Suzanna Harris. Instead of a western-style clapper, the Friendship Bell will use an external "striker" rod made of wood (traditionally a palm tree log). The Bell Pavilion, designed by University of Tennessee Professor and Architect Jon Coddington, also of Oak Ridge, is located in the City's A.K. Bissell Park. The City of Oak Ridge has provided the land required for the bell pavilion and grounds within the park. The pavilion and grounds are visible from the town's main thoroughfare, the Oak Ridge Turnpike.

      The site is near the Oak Ridge Civic Center/Library complex, the Convention and Visitors Center, the American Museum of Science and Energy, and other area attractions and public service resources with easy access by foot or vehicle.

      A public fitness trail, operated and maintained by the City, runs through the plain which lies between the Bell Pavilion and the Oak Ridge Turnpike. This trail area is well lighted and well used by local residents.

      Landscaping will be low-keyed and low-maintenance: the bell and pavilion are to remain the center of attention. The site already features a stand of young locust trees, and the greensward in front of the site has recently been planted with low-growing trees and shrubs.

      The Friendship Bell will be unique: there are only two such bells known to exist in the United States. Its Oak Ridge location will make it the first U.S.-Japan monument at any Manhattan Project site and will attract businessmen, scholars, and tourists from the United States, Japan, and all around the world.

The Bell has two large panels, designed by Oak Ridger Suzanna Harris. The panels depict natural characteristics of Tennessee and of Japan , including the official flowers, trees, and birds of each. Other sections list significant historical dates in the life of Oak Ridge and carry the message of international friendship and peace.

      For more information about the Friendship Bell Pavilion,
contact the Oak Ridge Community Foundation,
c/o 101 William Lane, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830, U.S.A.

( This page is based on the brochure of The International Friendship Bell.)