Naruto Town Museum of History and Folklore 29
Naruto Town's Cultural Asset 2

This page talks about the Blue-eyed Doll that is a Designated Cultural Property of Naruto Town.

In 1921, Ujo Noguchi published a song whose lyrics begin "a blue-eyed doll, made of celluloid, was born in America." The song was originally published in the magazine entitled Golden Ship, and Nagayo Motoori composed the music for the song. Even today it is a popular song with many people. The Blue-eyed Dolls discussed on this page were made in France, and they were friendship ambassadors of peace sent from America in 1927. Let's read about these Blue-eyed Dolls that faced an unfortunate fate in the conflict between Japan and the United States.

Friendship Doll (Blue-eyed Doll)

In the 1910s and 1920s, a movement arose in America to exclude immigrants from Japan in order to stop Japanese who worked hard even for low wages. Relations between Japan and America became tense. American missionary Sidney Lewis Gulick, who was concerned about these worsening relations, thought of an idea to deepen friendships with Japanese people. in 1927, 12,739 French-made dolls, bought with money collected through contributions, were sent to Japan as "Friendship Dolls." In Japan these dolls were given to each elementary school and kindergarten, and huge ceremonies were held to welcome the dolls. The children were delighted with these dolls that could say "mama" and close their eyes when turned on their side. Also, Japanese dolls were given by Japan to America as Ambassador Dolls. These dolls were welcomed enthusiastically in the U.S.

However, contrary to the hopes embodied in these dolls, in December 1941 Japan and America plunged into war against each other. Afterward, the situation arose in Japan where people were not permitted to have or use things with the image of America, and the government promoted the slogan of "the brutes England and America." The  Friendship Dolls (Blue-eyed Dolls) also could not win against such a current, and they were burned and destroyed at many elementary schools.

Currently there are 286 Blue-eyed Dolls that have been confirmed to exist in all Japan. Since the number of dolls given was 12,739, almost all of them have disappeared. There is one of these Blue-eyed Dolls at Naruto Elementary School. It is the only one within Sambu-gun, and in Chiba Prefecture there are only about ten. When we look at the Blue-eyed Dolls once more, let's try to consider the ideas of missionary Sidney Lewis Gulick, who gave the dolls. 

In 1987, Naruto Town designated this Blue-eyed Doll as one of the town's cultural assets.

This is an English translation of a Japanese web page (link no longer available).

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