Destinations Magazine

Battersea Park: Finding Zen in London

By Wanderlust23

A few weeks ago as London was hitting the beginning of the recent heatwave D and I ventured to Battersea Park to relax by the Thames.  We choose a spot right by the Peace Pagoda and watched as passersby stopped and marvelled.

The Pagoda was built by Japanese Buddhist nuns and monks in 1985.  It is one of two in the UK, the other and first built is in Milton Keynes.  Sitting on the bank of the Thames the pagoda is a shrine to world peace and is probably one of my favorite structures in the city.

Peace Pagoda - Battersea Park London

The Peace Pagoda movement was started by Japanese Buddhist monk, Nichidatsu Fujii (1885-1985), founder of the Nipponzan Myohoji Order. He worked with Ghandi in India in the 1930s and in 1947 began to send out monks and nuns across the world to build Peace Pagodas in a campaign against nuclear weapons and for World peace and social and moral justice.

The first two pagodas were built in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, devastated by the atomic bombs dropped by the US the previous year. There are now around 80 of these shrines to World peace around the world, mainly built by the Nipponzan Myohoji Order.

Top of the Peace Pagoda - Battersea Park

Close up Battersea Park Peace Pagoda

The Pagoda has four large sacred gilded bronze sculptures on each of its four sides which document significant stages in Buddha’s life.  Birth, Contemplation, Teaching and Passing Away shown in order below:

Buddha - Birth - London Peace Pagoda

Contemplation Buddha - London Peace Pagoda

Teaching Buddha - London Peace Pagoda

Passing Away Buddha - London Peace Pagoda

Responsibility for the pagoda falls on Rev. Gyoro Nagase who lives nearby.  However volunteers assist in carrying out maintenance work.  There are yearly events although I have yet to make one.  The annual celebration in June brings together Buddhists from all different traditions as well as interfaith representatives who offer prayers for peace. There are also speeches and multicultural events. On 9 August, Nagasaki Day, a Floating Lantern ceremony takes place at dusk to commemorate all victims of war.

Opening times for Battersea Park are from 8am until dusk. However some gates are normally open earlier and stay open later to allow access to facilities in the park (e.g. sports activities or exhibitions).

Nearest station: Battersea Park Rail

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