Introduced to Oak Ridge around a quarter of a century ago, the Internal Friendship Bell is one of the Secret City’s most beloved landmarks. We are excited to report that the Friendship Bell now has a brand new home in A.K. Bissell Park! Last month, the Secret City officially dedicated the Peace Pavilion, a state-of-the-art display area for the Friendship Bell.

The Peace Pavilion celebrates the strong relationship between Oak Ridge and its sister city in Japan and shows off some of the technological innovations developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. For a sneak peek of the new pavilion, check out this video of the pavilion’s dedication ceremony from local news station WBIR:

About the International Friendship Bell

Oak Ridge is inextricably linked to Japan because the atomic weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II were developed in the Secret City. In the post-war era, however, Oak Ridge established warm relations with the Japanese city of Naka, which is located about 80 miles north of Tokyo. Naka, which is home to a research facility operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, is considered Oak Ridge’s sister city.

To celebrate Oak Ridge’s 50th birthday, the Secret City commissioned an International Friendship Bell to symbolize the peace and fraternity shared by Oak Ridge and Japan. The 8,300-pound bell was designed by an artist in Oak Ridge and cast in bronze by a family foundry in Kyoto in 1993. The Friendship Bell is decorated with scenes from Japan and Tennessee and is inscribed with the dates of key events from World War II.

Dedication of the Peace Pavilion

25 years later, Oak Ridge is marking its 75th birthday by giving the Friendship Bell a place of honor in the new Peace Pavilion. More than $800,000 was raised for the pavilion, with early contributions coming from the city of Naka and from the Girl Scouts Oak Ridge Service, which has ties to Japanese scouts living in Naka.

The dedication of the Peace Pavilion was attended by Hiroyuki Kobayashi, the Consul-General of Japan. At the ceremony, Kobayashi recalled that his parents’ memories of war left a deep impression on him. “Their central message was clear to me,” said the Consul-General. “War must never be repeated…I believe the relationship between Japan and the U.S. continues to stand as a prime example of a steadfast alliance promoting peace, especially amid these uncertain times.”

What to Expect at the Peace Pavilion

The Peace Pavilion boasts a striking design that features 17 free-floating, 33-foot long carbon fiber composite beams suspended above the Friendship Bell. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and a number of other organizations worked together to manufacture these high-tech beams over the course of three months.

The pavilion will eventually feature benches with 3D printed backs that will be able to seat up to 150 people. The seat backs will come from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The city of Oak Ridge also plans to start a garden near the pavilion that will have Japanese-style raked gravel to represent water and boulders to represent the mountains of East Tennessee. The garden will also feature maple, cherry, dogwood, and ginkgo trees.

If you would like to see the Peace Pavilion and International Friendship Bell during your visit to Oak Ridge, plan a trip to Alvin K. Bissell Park, which is located at 1401 Oak Ridge Turnpike.

Learn More About Oak Ridge’s History

Want to learn more about the Secret City’s role during World War II? Visit our History page to read all about Oak Ridge’s fascinating past!