Allison - Messenger of Friendship

Allison arrived at Iai Asahioka Kindergarten in 1927 as one of the nearly 13,000 doll ambassadors of friendship sent from America to Japanese schools. The doll was kept with care in a glass case for many decades, but over the years the kindergarten teachers forgot the origin of the doll. In 1999, a graduate of Iai Asahioka Kindergarten and a former teacher at the school provided information to verify that the kindergarten's doll is one of the original Friendship Dolls.

The rediscovery of the origin of Iai Asahioka Kindergarten's doll began with a column published in the Hokkaido Shimbun on August 9, 1999. This column described the interest of Ms. Shizu Hasegawa in researching the American Friendship Dolls (also referred to as "Blue-eyed Dolls") in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Ms. Sumiko Yoshida (77 years old at the time) of Hakodate City read the column, and she contacted Mrs. Hasegawa to say, "I remember in kindergarten I was the school representative to receive the Blue-eyed Doll."

Allison's Original Dress and Hat
Ms. Hasegawa visited the school to investigate the doll displayed in the principal's office. Ms. Kondo (85 years old at the time), who previously worked at the kindergarten and whose mother was a resident teacher at the kindergarten when the doll was received, confirmed that there was a doll there in 1927.

The passport of the kindergarten's doll had been lost, so her name was not known. Therefore, in 2002 Mrs. Hasegawa requested Mr. Sidney Gulick, 3d, grandson of the American missionary who organized in 1927 the sending of American dolls to Japan, to issue a new passport for the doll. Mr. Gulick, 3d, renamed the doll Allison and sent a letter to say he was sending the passport "in the same spirit that the dolls were sent across the Pacific Ocean seventy five years ago, through the World Friendship Among Children in the United States and in Japan." The kindergarten held a ceremony on October 30, 2002, to tell the children about the new name for the doll and to show them the passport and letter from Mr. Gulick, 3d. The principal said, "We always want to take good care of Allison." The children enthusiastically sang the song "Blue-eyed Doll" to the 30 guests in attendance.

This web page includes information from Hokkaido Shimbun articles
dated September 28, 1999; October 6, 1999; and October 31, 2002.

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