Design drawing for Peace Bell discovered Western-style bell near former Municipal Baseball Stadium Drawing to be donated by Matsumura of Nishi Ward, son of metal caster involved in production of bell

by Rina Yuasa, Staff Writer

The design drawing for the Peace Bell, which was tolled only once four years after the atomic bombing, has been discovered. The drawing is now kept by a family member of a metal caster who was involved in the production of the bell after going through the atomic bombing. The drawing, which tells one aspect of the reconstruction period of Hiroshima after the atomic bombing, will be donated to the Hiroshima Municipal Archives. The tower housing the bell stands near the former site of the Municipal Baseball Stadium in central Hiroshima.

The blueprint drawing is about the size of B3-size paper. The one-fifth scale drawing of the western-style 1.4-meter-tall bell says: Design and production by the Hiroshima Copper Alloy Cast Association. Shinkichi Matsumura, 80, a resident of Nishi Ward of Hiroshima, found the drawing in the storage of his home in autumn last year. It is believed that his father Yonekichi Matsumura, who was the president of the association, had kept the drawing.

With the drawing was a letter of appreciation from Shinso Hamai, who was the mayor of Hiroshima when the association donated the bell to the city. The letter says, “This bell will forever convey the sound of peace to the whole world.” But the bell was rung during the peace ceremony held in 1949 only. The following year’s ceremony was canceled because of the Korean War. As the venue for the memorial ceremony was changed to the Peace Memorial Park in 1951, the bell has not been used.

The bell was made using metal gathered in the fire-devastated area. Since 2015, a group supporting the use of the bell has been holding an annual prayer ceremony on August 6, during which participants toll the bell.

Mr. Matsumura showed the drawing to members of the group last month. Mitsunori Nishimoto, 70, a resident of Nishi Ward, is a son of the late Akio Nishimoto, who was a metal caster and played a major role in the production of the bell. Mr. Nishimoto seemed to be filled with deep emotion when he said, “I wish I could have shown it to my father before he died.” Mr. Matsumura said, “I didn’t know that the drawing still existed. The drawing should be handed down to future generations rather than kept by a private individual.”

(Originally published on July 8, 2021)