A landmark of peace
On a day that charted the noticeable differences between Hampshire and the city (mainly marked by pavement population, and street lamps versus nil), to me, the Peace Pagoda stuck out like a mirage. Visible from the Chelsea Embankment, the Pagoda is a wash of tranquility against the back drop of Battersea Power Station in a state of transition.
Built to commemorate the atrocities of Hiroshima, followers of The Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii (founded of the Japanese Buddhist Movement a friend of Gandhi's) set to work, completing the structure in 1985.
With 80 monuments currently worldwide, the incarnation in Battersea has an older sibling, superseding it by five years, Milton Keynes' rendition carries just one roof.
Attributed to heaven and the living, pagodas are traditionally built with an odd number of floors, while even numbers are reserved for the dead and hell.
Japanese significance of odd numbers is perfectly realised in the Seven-Five-Three Festival (Shichigosan Festival), that sees children aged seven, five and three go to shrines to celebrate their growth. Where Westerners prefer to celebrate milestones such as reaching "double digits" and sixteenth and eighteenth birthdays.
Though we might not be able to read all the cultural symbolism, the pagoda stops passersby in their tracks.
If the statue of Buddha doesn't yield any overt meaning to you, the sheer spectacle forces a pause in routine. It disrupts the expectation of passing grey buildings, and a souvenir of peace is engrained in your mind. Something to tell the colleagues you're on the way to meet, or even a photo to put on Instagram. You might be looking for a conversation starter, but the pagoda's point is spilling out from you too.