April 11, 2019

Japanese Temple Bell

In Boston's Fen area, near the World War 2 memorial, is an old Japanese Bell. I have discovered that there is a bit of history on how this 343-year old bell ended up in Boston. (You won't find this on the sign at the Bell.)

Japanese Temple Bell

Ten Things I Learned About the Japanese Temple Bell

The Bell weights 450-pounds and is four foot tall.

The Bell Came from crew members of the USS Boston from Japan after the Second World War.

The Bell was discovered by US Navy crew members in a scrap yard in Yokosuka, Japan.

After the war, the USS Boston docked at San Francisco and the Bell was shipped to Boston - cost $42.80 in transportation charges. ($557.94 in 2019 value)

The Bell was given to the City of Boston by Captain Marion R. Kelly - who had retired after the War after nearly 29-years of service.

Originally installed on the Boston Commons on April 25th, 1946. It was moved to the Back Bay Fens in 1953.

There is a small plaque that says the bell was cast in 1675 - Making the Japanese Temple Bell the oldest man made object on display in Boston. (The only this possibly older is the MillStone by Haymarket)

Shortly after the Bell was moved to the Fenway to a permanent location. Some Bostonians wanted the Navy Department to take another look on how the Bell was obtained after the war. Some people thought it was looted from a Buddhist or Shinto Temple in Japan.

The Navy department did an investigation and determined that Boston is the rightful owner of the Temple Bell.

The Bell sits near the World War 2 Memorial, and has face some tough times over the years. The surface is badly corroded. The base has been painted to cover graffiti. The bell is also cracked in several locations.

Plaque beneath the Bell

Temple Bell from Japan
Cast in 1675
Brought to the City of Boston by the Officers and Men of the United States Ship Boston
With the Blessing of the Manpukuji Temple-Sendai as a Symbol of Friendship and a Bond of Peace

Note: Did you notice that the plaque text downplays how the Temple Bell was discovered in World War 2. It makes it sound like it was a gift, when in fact it was taken from Japan during the war. Only later did Japanese officials allow Boston to keep it as a way to rebuild friendship.

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