Type: Large bronze bell housed in a pavilion structure
The citizens of Yokohama, Japan presented the Friendship Bell to San Diego in May 1958 as part of the Centennial Celebration of formal relations between that country and the United States. It also served to mark the establishment of the sister city relationship between San Diego and Yokohama, which is the first such affiliation on the West Coast.
The bell itself stands 6-feet high and weighs in at almost two and one-half tons. The words "Bell of Friendship" are inscribed on it in both English and Japanese. Like other traditional Japanese bells, the Friendship Bell has no clapper inside. It is rung instead by being struck with a large wooden ram that is suspended horizontally from two v-shaped chains in the bell house. To ring the bell, the ram is pulled back with a lanyard and then released, which causes it to strike a specially raised surface on the bell. The bell house is typical of those found in Japan. It is open on four sides and surrounded by a moat.
During the dedication ceremony in December 1960 eighteen traditional gongs were struck for good luck, in accordance with Japanese custom. Among those taking part in the ceremony was Saburo Muraoka, a driving force in the Sister City program. Over the years the bell has become a popular spot for groups and individuals to visit and take pictures, and it is regularly tolled on New Year's eve.
For other public art that celebrates our friendship with peoples of the Pacific Rim, see Pearl of the Pacific, also located on Shelter Island near this location.