Sunday, 8 March 2015

Battersea Park Peace Pagoda

I’ve been meaning to visit the Battersea Park peace pagoda for a number of years. I first glimpsed it from a train going over the river Thames and past Battersea power station, on my way to Brighton. If you’ve ever been on a train over that particular bridge from Victoria toward South London or Brighton and happened to look out of the window on the right-hand side, you’ve probably seen the pagoda too. It’s hard to miss and an unusual sight for the south of London, for sure.

The idea of Battersea Park being home to one of Japan’s foremost Buddhist sects may strike the casual visitor as incongruous – to say the least. But to early morning joggers and dog-walkers it will not be a surprise. A saffron-robe clad Buddhist monk, gently beating a drum as he does a daily perambulation at sunrise from his temple to the Peace Pagoda, is a familiar sight.

The Reverend Gyoro Nagase first arrived in England in 1978 from Aichi prefecture, near Nagoya, in Japan, to assist in the construction of the first Peace Pagoda in the UK in Milton Keynes. In 1984 he moved to London, as part of a team of 50 volunteers and Buddhist monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order, to construct the Peace Pagoda in the park, which was completed the following year. Battersea Park

I’m from Milton Keynes and the Willen peace pagoda (and the Japanese temple alongside it) is probably one of my most favourite places in the world. I visited it often when I was younger and before I moved to Bedford, just under a year ago, I would is visit it sometimes several times a month. I’m proud that my hometown was home to the first peace pagoda in the Western world and I’m happy that there’s a little bit of Japan and Japanese Buddhist culture in the heart of Milton Keynes.

So, I will always be a little bit biased in saying the MK pagoda is the best of them all. But then I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit another peace pagoda until yesterday – although I do intend to visit some of the original ones in Japan in the future (possibly even next year – more on that later). However, the Battersea Park peace pagoda is beautiful. Probably larger than the Milton Keynes pagoda and, I suppose, all the more impressive for being along the river Thames.

A first glimpse of the pagoda.

My boyfriend and I visited the park yesterday afternoon, on what was without a doubt the nicest and warmest day of the year so far. We’d spent the morning with a brief spot of record shopping at All Ages, punk record shop, in Camden and then popped to Piccadilly Circus to browse the Japan Centre. We bought some lunch there – Japanese of course – and then headed off to Battersea Park. It’s a short trip on an overground/national rail train, one stop, from Victoria. We walked for about fifteen minutes across the park, tummies grumbling (or mine was anyway!), until we found a bench near to the pagoda where we could sit and eat our Japanese lunch.

I had salmon and avocado brown rice sushi rolls.
Food pictured in location.
This is a matcha melon pan, filled with red bean paste.

Lunch was eaten and much enjoyed. Photographs were taken – for me this was both on my iPhone (seen here) and on my Pentax film camera. I’d got about 8 photos left to take on a roll of film that had first been started last September when we were holidaying in Cornwall! So I figured it was about time I finished the film up and got the photos, along with another Cornwall roll of film, developed. No doubt I will scan and post some of those photos when I have them. But, for now, iPhone…

I really loved the roof (if you can call it a roof?)
Each of the four sides has a different golden scupltured Buddha illustration – similar to the one in MK.

Next: Kew Gardens!

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