Delegation from U.S. visits Hiroshima Prefecture, linked by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and temple bell

by Toshiko Bajo, Staff Writer

On April 16, a delegation from Americus, Georgia, a southern U.S. state, visited Shoganji Temple in the Konu area of Miyoshi, a city in Hiroshima Prefecture. Americus is located near the hometown of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has ties to Konu. A bell originally owned by the temple was the impetus for the exchange between Konu and Mr. Carter.

The 12 members of the group range in age from teens to those in their sixties. The head of the temple, Shodo Yoshii, 64, showed the group around the temple grounds. They rang a bell and saw photo panels which show Mr. Carter’s visit to Konu and a stone monument that is inscribed with his message.

Mr. Carter visited the town in 1990 after learning that a bell, now on display in Atlanta, once belonged to the temple. The bell was given to the Japanese military during World War II as a source of metal to help with the war effort. However, the bell was not destroyed and subsequently made its way to Atlanta to be displayed as a symbol of peace. The two municipalities concluded a friendship city agreement in 1995.

Angie Smith, 46, a member of the delegation, said that she hopes the relationship between the cities will continue and serve as a symbol of peace.

The group visited local schools on the same day. They met with students at Hichi Elementary School and Konu Junior High School, introduced themselves in English, and enjoyed playing games with the students. They will be in the area until April 18.

(Originally published on April 17, 2013)