Unknown
Kobe Bell
1962

LOCATION
East of the Bagley Wright Theatre near the south wall of the Intiman Playhouse

FUNDING SOURCE
Gift to the city of Seattle from the city of Kobe, Japan


Housed within a small, traditional temple pagoda, the cylindrical Kobe Bell hangs on the Seattle Center grounds. The bell is a tribute to the goodwill and friendship fostered by Seattle's sister-city partnership with Kobe, Japan. The partnership was formed in the decades immediately following World War II, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower called upon governments at a municipal level to reach out to cities around the world in order to develop ties with both traditional friends and recent enemies. Seattle's Mayor Gordon Clinton and a committee of citizens chose to extend an invitation to the city of Kobe, Japan based on its rich history as a seaport and historical commitment to the arts. In 1957, Kobe's Mayor Haraguchi accepted, forming Seattle's first sister-city relationship.

In 1962, Seattle hosted the World's Fair on the Seattle Center grounds. Kobe sent the wooden structure and cast bronze bell as a commemorative gift. Unlike traditional western-style bells, the Kobe Bell has no clapper inside. Instead a large log suspended at a right angle strikes the metal exterior, ringing the bell from the outside. The bell is also richly ornamented with bands punctuated by rosettes partitioning its surface. Bronze studs and a curled dragon decorate the upper portion, while bas-relief designs of drum- and flute-playing Japanese gods adorn the lower portions. The middle section contains a dedication written in both Japanese and English: "Presented by the People of Kobe to the People of Seattle as a Symbol of Friendship. May this bell ring forever signifying friendship between the nations of the United States and Japan."