Installing a Japanese Temple Bell
Preparators at the Asian Art Museum install a 2100-pound bronze bell for the Bell Ringing Ceremony on December 31. In this annual tradition at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, visitors, led by a Buddhist priest, mark New Year by ringing a 2100-lb., sixteenth-century Japanese bronze bell originally from a temple in Tajima Province in Japan. Now part of the museum’s collection, the bell will be struck 108 times with a large custom-hewn log. According to custom in several Buddhist cultures, this symbolically welcomes the New Year and curbs the 108 mortal desires (bonno) which, according to Buddhist belief, torment humankind. It is hoped that with each reverberation the bad experiences, wrong deeds, and ill luck of the past year will be wiped away. Thus, tolling heralds the start of a joyous, fresh New Year.