There’s no getting away from it, 2016 was dire. But hopefully, things might just look up in 2017. If not, thankfully there’s a place you can head to whenever life’s rough and you’re in need of some quiet reflection: Battersea Park’s Peace Pagoda. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
It was a special gift
The Peace Pagoda was presented to Londoners by the Venerable Nichidatsu Fuji (affectionately nicknamed ‘Guruji’ by his close friend Mahatma Gandhi) in 1984. Founder of the Japanese Buddhist movement, Nipponzan Myohoji, Guruji stated that 'Civilisation is not to kill human beings, not to destroy things, nor make war; civilisation is to hold mutual affection and to respect one another'. Following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he pledged to build pagodas worldwide as shrines to peace. The Battersea pagoda was constructed by nuns, monks and other followers of the Nipponzan Myohoji sect and was completed in 1985 just weeks after Guruji died at the grand old age of 100.
It tells a story
The pagoda features a series of gilt-bronze statues which represent the most significant stages of Buddha’s life; birth, contemplation leading to enlightenment, teaching and death. Although the pagoda is open to all, these statues are considered sacred (so no climbing!).
It's got terrific views
The pagoda is located right beside the Thames offering a panoramic view of Chelsea Embankment. The perfect place to relax and forget your woes.
It has its own Reverend
The pagoda is kept in tip top condition by the Reverend Gyoro Nagase who came to London from Japan in 1978. As well as caring for the pagoda (and participating in its original construction), Reverend Nagase regularly campaigns for a nuclear-free world. His most recent protest took place last year when he walked across Anglesey in Wales to oppose the construction of a new nuclear power plant.
It's got an older British sibling
Britain's other peace pagoda – and the first to appear in the Western World – can be found on the shore of Willen Lake, Milton Keynes. It was unveiled in 1980. Altogether, there are now 80 peace pagodas worldwide.