On August 5, in the Japanese section of Montreal’s Botanical Gardens, Mayor Gérald Tremblay and Hiroaki Isobe, Japan’s consul-general, rang the peace bell in commemoration of Hiroshima. At the same time a bell rang many, many miles away, in that city where the first atomic bomb was dropped. The peace bell was presented to the city of Montreal from the city of Hiroshima as a sign of ‘eternal friendship and peace’ to mark the twinning of the two cities in 1998.
The bell bears the coats of arms of the city of Montreal and the city of Hiroshima, as well as doves, traditional symbols of peace. In addition to the one in Montreal, there are five identical bells in the world. They are in Volograd, Russia; Hanover, Germany; Honolulu, USA; Chongquing, People’s Republic of China, and Taegu, South Korea. We all watched huddled under soggy umbrellas, sheltering from torrents of rain that stopped as quickly as it started. The Japanese Garden, even more beautiful sparkling with raindrops, was the perfect setting for the occasion. Strings were set up around the bell. We all attached notes of peace written on white paper. Waving in the rainy breeze, they looked like tiny doves.
The Japanese Garden is in front of the famed Olympic Stadium, so when you go, you get to see soaring concrete as well as the koi in the Garden’s fish pond. The Garden is full of waving grasses, beautifully set beside pines, which actually seemed to me to whisper in the wind. Instead of the stuffed-with-flowers mood of say, an English country garden, you will be immediately soothed by the sense of space in this calm place. Life seems to slow down. The Japanese Garden is part of Montreal’s renowned Botanical Gardens. Yes, it is a bit out of the way, but easy peasy if you take the metro. Worth the trip. The family will love it. You can take a picnic. But, no barbeques or folding chairs please. And no dogs.
Botanical Gardens 4101 Sherbrooke Street East 514-872-1400 Ticket prices vary. Check the website for details and group prices