Fascinating Video Reveals What It Takes to Ring a 70-Ton Bell at a Japanese Temple

The 70-ton Great Bell Tower at the Chion In temple in Kyoto

Photo: Benjamin Hollis via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

When you think of a monumental bell, what comes to mind? Is it one shaped like a hollow cup, much like the Liberty Bell? If so, you aren't alone. In Eastern cultures, however, there are bells much larger than it. Located in temples and palaces, ringing these instruments can be a team effort, as they have to be hit from the outside by a large swinging beam for their sounds to come alive.

An insightful video shared by Instagram user hirori030303 shows what it takes to ring the Daishōrō, or Great Bell Tower, at the Chion-in Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, aka the largest bell in Japan. The footage depicts a group of men moving a large wooden batten back and forth. Once they have enough momentum, the men swing forward, leading one to even slide down the floor. Together, they ring the enormous green-gray bell with one swift blow. In total, it requires a group of 25 men to sound the bell.

As compelling as the sound of the bell is, this is far from the only element that makes the Great Bell Tower of the Chion-in Temple such a fascinating landmark. The bell weighs 70 tons (the Liberty Bell weighs one ton) and has a height of 10.8 feet and a diameter of 8.85 feet. This gigantic instrument is also wrapped in history; it was cast in 1636, while the tower which supports it was built in 1678.

It's uncommon to hear the bell, as it is only rung on certain occasions throughout the year. They include memorial services for Hōnen (the Gyoki Daie, held in April) and 108 times New Year’s Eve. By ringing it at the beginning of the new year, it vanishes the pain attached to worldly desires.

If you'd like to stay up to date with the beautiful sounds of the Great Bell Tower, you can visit the Chion-in Temple website. To learn more about the best-kept secrets of Kyoto and watch more videos of the beautiful bells of the area being rung, you can follow hirori030303 on Instagram.

The Great Bell Tower of the Chion-in Temple in Kyoto is the largest bell in Japan. It weighs 70 tons and has a height of 10.8 feet and a diameter of 8.85 feet. An insightful video shows what it takes to ring the bell.


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Una publicación compartida por hiro o (@hirori030303)

According to the temple, the bell is only rung during the memorial services for Hōnen (the Gyoki Daie, held in April) and on New Year’s Eve, when it is rung 108 times.

Chion-In Temple: Website | Instagram
h/t: [Reddit]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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