Blue-eyed Doll

The Blue-eyed Dolls were sent by America in 1927 for the purpose of Japanese-American friendship. There were 286 dolls in Nagano Prefecture, and at present the existence of 23 has been confirmed. (In all Japan, there were 12,739 dolls, but as of July 1985 there were only 195 confirmed to be in existence.) We will introduce one of these dolls.


On display at Daiyon Junior High School in Ueda City


   The doll at our school was given to Kawabe Elementary School. After the war, Kawabe Junior High School was established, and afterward in 1958 it was consolidated into Ueda City Daiyon Junior High School. At that time the doll was transferred to our school.
   Facts about the receipt of the doll and how the doll was preserved during the war are not known.
   In the past the doll has been kept in the principal's office, the storage area in the school office, and the English study room. Now she is kept in the principal's office.
   In 1984, students did an investigation about the doll, and they created a doll display corner at the annual school festival in October, where they publicly displayed the doll.
   In 1999, as part of the events for the 80th anniversary of the founding of Ueda City, an "Exhibit of School Treasures" was held. At that time there was a doll photograph exhibition. At the school's annual festival in October, some dolls were displayed. News of these events was published in the Shinano Mainichi Shimbun.

   On the doll's back, the following marking is imprinted:

When you
hug her...

   The doll, sitting as shown in the photo above, is kept in a glass case.
   Each doll had its own name, together with an authentic-looking passport, but no one knows now about our doll's name and passport. Only one sock remains of those she was thought to be wearing originally. Since it looked so poor, someone made her a pair of brand-new socks.
   When you tenderly hug her so as not to hurt her and then you lay her down, her eyes close. When she stands up again, she cries out with the sound "maa." The doll was made to last. One is amazed that this doll is some 70 years old, and at the same time one strongly feels the importance of the doll's history. There were dolls with blue eyes, but not all of the dolls that were given had blue eyes. The eyes of this doll at Daiyon Junior High School are not blue.


   The Committee on World Friendship Among Children, led by Dr. Sidney Gulick, established a plan to give American dolls to Japanese children. Dr. Gulick, who knew a great deal about Japan after living there for 20 years, was deeply hurt by the anti-Japanese sentiment spreading throughout America. He began a campaign to give dolls to Japanese children in order to improve relations a little bit between Japan and America. The number of dolls collected rose to 12,739.
   On March 3, grand welcoming ceremonies were held at elementary schools and kindergartens all over the country to welcome the dolls to Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival).
   The dolls were sturdy, made of a mixture of sawdust and paper. When hugged, they cried out "mama." The clothes were hand-made specially for each doll by American children and mothers.
   The children were filled with happiness, and they took good care of the dolls. As a return gift, the children contributed one sen (half cent) each and gave 58 Ichimatsu Dolls.
   When World War II began, many dolls were destroyed as "hated enemies that must not be permitted to exist." There were also some people who bravely protected the dolls with the belief they were innocent of any crime.
   The TV program "Mary, the Doll Messenger" was broadcast on NHK. As a result of this, news came out of the existence of dolls in various places.

Doll Locations

Location Name Location Name
Izumi Elementary School, Saku City Former Kaichi School Jane
Higashi Elementary School, Komoro City Mary Hongo Elementary School, Matsumoto City Mary Rowe
Aoki Junior High School, Chiisagata-gun Cynthia Wayne Hara Elementary School, Suwa-gun Rosemary
Ueda City Daiyon Junior High School Nakasu Elementary School, Suwa City
Murakami Elementary School, Hanishina-gun Suwa City Education Museum
Watauchi Elementary School, Nagano City Mary Nanakubo Elementary School, Kamiina-gun
Kawada Elementary School, Nagano City Mary Ooshika Elementary School, Shimoina-gun Myrtle Louise
Izumidai Elementary School, Iiyama City   Neba Elementary School, Shimoina-gun Emmy
Higashi Elementary School, Iiyama City Aroa Kiso Kindergarten, Kiso-gun
Otari Elementary School, Kitazumi-gun   Suhara Elementary School, Kiso-gun Martha May
Azumi Elementary and Junior High School, Minami Azumi-gun Mary Kiso Board of Education
Azusagawa Elementary School, Minami Azumi-gun Mary  


August 1980
   At Shinonoi City Nanbu Library (now Nagano City Nanbu Library) the four dolls at Iiyama Higashi Elementary, Kawada Elementary, Watauchi Elementary, and Murakami elementary were gathered together and put on exhibition to the public.
   At that time the existence of nine dolls in Nagano Prefecture has been confirmed. People were very interested since this was the first doll exhibition.
December 12, 2000 - January 28, 2001
   As part of the "Nagano Prefecture 20th Century Exhibition -- 20th Century Women Who Lived in Shinshu" at the Nagano Prefecture Historical Museum, the three dolls from Kawada Elementary, Watauchi Elementary, and Murakami Elementary were exhibited.


This is a copy of the passport of Cynthia Wayne at Aoki Junior High School in Chiisagata-gun. The passport number is shown at the top right of the outside. The right half of the inside gives the doll's name, eye color, hair color, and other information.

Reference Book: Blue-eyed Dolls, Eiko Takeda, published by Yamaguchi Shoten

Special thanks to Mitsuo Tsukahara for permission to publish this web page.
This is an English translation of a Japanese web page.

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