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Kobe Bell Meditation Garden

Bagley Wright Theatre near the south wall of Cornish Playhouse

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."

Kobe Bell was a gift to the city of Seattle from the city of Kobe, Japan.

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