Dai Heiwa Kinen Tō (Great Peace Prayer Tower), more commonly known as the PL Peace Tower, is located in the city of Tondabayashi, south of Osaka. The 180 metre high memorial tower was built in 1970 by PL Kyodan (Church of Perfect Liberty) as a tribute to war victims of all time, regardless of race, ethnic group, state or religion.
The Church of Perfect Liberty is a religious movement founded by Tokuhara Miki (formerly a Zen Buddhist priest) in 1924. To date the sect claims over one million followers around the world (spread over more than 10 countries). The members follow 21 principles, the first being “Life is art”. Their spiritual leader is known as “Oyasama”.
The cult is based in Habikino, right next to Tondabayashi. The Church of Perfect Liberty runs a hospital, golf course and other sports facilities. It also owns the PL Gakuen School, which is known to participate regularly in the National High School Baseball Championship (Summer Koshien).
The tower’s idiosyncratic design, similar to Gaudí’s architecture, resembles a finger pointing skyward. It was designed by the second Oyasama, Tokuchika Miki. Construction, carried out by the Nikken Sekkei architectural practice, was originally planned in terracotta but eventually a mixture of expanded clay and concrete was used as being more resistant to earthquakes.
Every year on 1 August a ceremony is organized in memory of the founder. This event, the Kyojo PL Art of Fireworks, is especially popular with locals for its magnificent fireworks display.
The interior of the tower is generally not usually free to access, being a place of worship rather than a tourist attraction. But you can sometimes visit the temple on the second floor to pray for world peace (regardless of your faith). The first-floor observatory, once open to the public, seems to have closed its doors.