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U.S.-Japan Sister Cities Bell Ringing: 75 Years of Peace Since Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Last September, the United Religions Initiative (URI), of which the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC) is a Cooperation Circle, planted two ginkgo saplings at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park that survived the 1945 nuclear blast over Hiroshima. That planting was symbolic of the resilience of life and the triumph of peace over destruction. August 5, 2020 will mark  the 75th Anniversary of the start of the horrific bombings over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was recently contacted by the City & County of San Francisco’s Office of Protocol and introduced to Co-Chair of the SF-Osaka Sister Cities Association/NORCAL Sister Cities International Board Member Kathleen Kimura, who is undertaking a nation-wide effort to encourage houses of worship with bells to solemnly ring them on that day and beyond in remembrance of those who perished and also as a reminder that all humanity should seek peace in our world. A detailed description of the invitation may be found in the email being forwarded below and the attachment. We would encourage those congregations with carillons to participate and promote this activity with their congregants. Please contact Kathleen Kimura (cc’d on this email) directly should you have further questions or are in need of clarification.


Michael G. Pappas, M.Div

Executive Director
San Francisco Interfaith Council
Interfaith Center at the Presidio
P.O. Box 29055, San Francisco, CA 94129

Dear Michael:

I was very pleased to be able to talk with you on the telephone.  Thank you for being in touch.

As I explained to you on the phone, Sister Cities International (SCI) is based in Washington DC.  They have initiated a Bell Ringing Project nationwide to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This initiative was sent out to all cities in the US which have a connection with Japan, including those 106 cities in California alone which have relationships with cities in Japan.  Given the current difficult situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic it is recognized of course that any events will be limited, and probably low-key.  Mayors of cities for example could if permitted hold a simple bell-ringing ceremony and make an announcement and/or issue a proclamation honoring this solemn occasion.  Certainly anything to do with promoting peace at this time is most welcome.

One very significant way this solemn anniversary could be commemorated is by as many churches in cities as possible to ring their bells at the allotted times; Sister Cities International is indicating that bell ringing should commence at 4:15 PM, Wednesday, August 5, (PST) which is the actual time and date the first bomb fell on Hiroshima at 8;15 AM on Thursday, August 6, and once again on Saturday, August 8 at 7:02 PM to coincide with the time the second bomb fell on Nagasaki at 11:02 AM.    It is each city’s choice whether to do one or both.  Attached to this email is the pdf description of the Sister Cities International Project which was sent out by SCI.

One of our board members is herself involved with the local hibakusha (survivors of the attack who live locally) and some churches in Japantown.

If this is something you think your organization might be able to coordinate, it would be truly awesome.  I do know that plans are underway in San Jose; I am meeting with my local sister cities commission on the peninsula to hopefully arrange something here too.

I would be happy to discuss further if you have any additional questions or concerns.  This is truly a voluntary exercise and in no way is it mandated!

Best wishes
Co-Chair, SF-Osaka Sister Cities Association
NORCAL Sister Cities International Board Member

Kathleen Kimura, MBE
(415) 602-1660


Download the 4 page flyer: U.S.-Japan Sister Cities Bell Ringing Announcement




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