The Sprouts: Peace Noodles

We’ve visited Enger Park in Duluth several times and while there rang the Peace Bell within the Japanese garden. While we knew there was a sister-city in Japan, it wasn’t until reading The Peace Bell written by Margi Preus and illustrated by Kideko Takahashi that we understood the full story.

The book is fictional but depicts the true story of a Japanese bell that was donated for war efforts during WWII. After the war, it surprisingly was discovered intact in a Yokosuka shipyard by crewmembers of the U.S.S. Duluth. The crew presented the bell to the ship’s namesake, Duluth, Minnesota where it sat silent in the city hall for eight years. A visiting Japanese professor learned of the bell and began researching its origins. He discovered that a famous artisan crafted the bell and the names engraved in it were traced back to the town of Ohara, Japan. The city of Duluth returned the bell in 1954, and it was renamed the American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell. In 1989, a sister-city relationship began and in 1991, Ohara presented Duluth with a replica bell. Just as in Ohara, it now hangs in a hilltop park, and when rung, a message of peace passes to each city.

In the book, a grandmother interweaves memories and traditions as she retells the story of the bell. On New Year’s Eve she recalls slurping up bowls of toshi-koshi soba— long-life noodles, while waiting for the temple bell to ring.

“12 times for the 12 months
24 times for the 24 atmospheres
72 times for the 72 climates
For a total of 108 times! And when it ended, the song of the bell kept ringing inside of me.”

Upon its return to Ohara, “after many long years of silence, the bell was allowed to have its say. KA-DOON it sang. It sang away all the years of sorrow. It sang of new friendships to come. And it sang of the hope for peace in the hearts of people all over the world.”

While it is not New Year’s Eve tonight we made “peace noodles.” Below is the link for Toshi-Koshi Soba Noodles and more information about the Japanese holiday traditions.

Here is our version of the recipe:
Cook a package of soba noodles, rinse and pour into cold water and let set for a couple minutes, rinse again.

Heat 6 cups of Dashi (
Add Mirin-Soy Sauce Mixture: 8 T Soy Sauce, 4 T Mirin & 2 t sugar

We added the soba noodles to the broth and for our version, small cubes of tofu. Sprinkle with chopped green onions. If desired, add a raw egg, which will poach in the hot broth. The kids loved it and O is excited to have it in his lunch tomorrow.

Sayonara Japan! We have lots of good memories and will ring the Peace Bell often! But before we go, O would like to sing 1-10 for you in Japanese. He learned it watching a catchy video:

Join us next week as we begin our visit to China.

A special thank you to a dear, new friend who shared this book with me. I look forward to many more discoveries together!

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