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2017 Bell Tolling_“joyanokane” (除夜の鐘)

  • Iowa State Capitol 1111 East Court Avenue Des Moines, IA, 50319 United States (map)

Join the Japan America Society of Iowa for our annual activity where we ring in the New Year. We will meet at the Iowa-Yamanashi Bell of Friendship and Peace, located on the Iowa State Capitol grounds just west of the judicial building at 1111 E. Court Avenue. 

**Everyone can have a turn to ring the bell**

Yamanashi Bell.jpg

History of Yamanashi Peace Bell:

After typhoons in 1959 severely damaged crops, homes, and farmlands of the Yamanashi prefecture in Japan, citizens of Iowa generously sent breeding hogs and feed corn to aid that district. This program began a friendship culminating in a sister-state relationship, the first of its kind between the United States and Japan. In 1962, as a sign of their appreciation, the citizens of the Yamanashi area presented this monument to Iowa.

The 2,000-pound temple bell of peace and friendship as well as the structure that houses it, came from Japan.

 

Why does the bell ring 108 times at year end?

Ringing the temple bell is perceived as a symbol to finish the old year and welcome the new one. At midnight on December 31st, no matter where you are in Japan, you will hear the “joyanokane” (除夜の鐘), the ringing of a temple or shrine bell 108 times.  According to Buddhist beliefs, 108 is the number of passions and desires entrapping us in the cycle of suffering and reincarnation.  So, the 108 bell chimes symbolize the purification from the 108 delusions and sufferings accumulated in the past year. 

The number corresponds to the number of “bonno,” or worldly desires. There are 6 kinds of bonno and they are further subdivided into 3 sections, becoming 18. Also, each of these 18 kinds consists of 2 categories, making 36. Finally, there are other 3 categories into which the 36 bonno fall, bringing the total number of bonno to 108.  Each ring represents one of 108 earthly temptations (Bonno) a person must overcome to achieve nirvana.