On Tuesday, 28 February 2017 St John’s College was delighted to welcome members of Shuyodan Hosekai from Japan for commemorative ceremony in the presence of ‘our’ Peace Stone.
The Peace Stone at St John’s, located near the Freehill Tower, is one of a number of Stones erected in Japan and other countries by a Japanese foundation, Shuyodan Hosekai.
Each Peace Stone is a piece of natural rock about two metres high, engraved with kanji characters. The Stone at St John’s is inscribed with a poem of eight characters, which translates as, ‘The Four Seas are brothers and sisters, all nations are at peace’. The poem was written by a famous calligrapher and Buddhist monk, Shunkai Bundo.
“It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to welcome you here today for this commemorative ceremony in the presence of this Peace Stone”, said St John’s College Rector, Adrian Diethelm. “The Peace Stone is a feature of the local landscape which almost has a personality of its own – a personality which is noble, refined, restrained, which invites us to reflect on why it has been placed here, what it stands for”.
“The quest for international peace, in accordance with the beliefs and traditions of Hoseikai, begins within our own hearts. If we purify our own hearts from anger and hatred, we will be rendering ourselves capable of serving the cause of peace in our families, our neighbourhoods, and our nations. In this way nations will come to have the moral virtue which alone makes possible a lasting peace between the nations”.
“St John’s will continue to embrace its role as guardian of this Stone, and on behalf of the College I express our hope that the high ideals of peace and harmony between nations, and between the people of different nations, will always be expressed in our corporate life at this College”.
Seitaro Idei, a pacifist and prisoner of war, founded Shuyodan Hoseikai, the Society for Promoting Devoted Service and Sincerity, in 1941.
There are 29 Peace Stones in Japan: the first was erected on an island off the coast of Hiroshima in 1959 and the fifteenth at Nagasaki in 1983. The Peace Stone at St John’s is one of only five erected outside Japan: the others are located in Sao Paolo, Berlin, San Francisco and Beijing.
The Peace Stone at St John’s was dedicated on 15 October 1989 and has been ceremonially visited on four occasions by members of Shuyodan Hosekai. Shuyodan Hosekai has also endowed the Peace Stone Scholarship at the College.