Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sapporo Friendship Bell

Here are a few photos of the Sapporo Friendship Bell in front of the Oregon Convention Center. The bell marks the longstanding sister city relationship between Portland and Sapporo (the big city on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, host city for the 1972 Winter Olympics, and namesake of a beer you may have heard of). There's a second bell that marks the sister city relationship between Portland and Ulsan, South Korea. I didn't realize the two bells had different origins at the time, so right now I only have photos of the Sapporo bell and I guess I'll need to go back for the other one at some point. Although I may hold off on that until my Drafts folder is a bit smaller.

The two bells were the focus of a brief controversy in 1990, when a local evangelical Christian group objected on First Amendment grounds, claiming the bells were a Buddhist religious symbol and should either be removed, or joined by a nativity scene. Convention center management didn't buy the argument; the bells stayed, and there's still no nativity scene. The ACLU was reported to be "looking at the case" but they don't seem to have ever filed suit over it. I can only imagine how Bill O'Reilly would have demagogued this if Fox News had existed back in 1990.

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