Blue-eyed Dolls

Story of Ruth Naomi and Susan
-- Blue-eyed Dolls, Messengers of Peace and Friendship --

Ruth Naomi (left) and Susan (right)

I am Ruth Naomi. I came to Nigata Elementary School exactly 75 years ago on May 13, 1927. I am a "Blue-eyed Doll," a messenger of peace and friendship who came to Japan by ship from the United States of America along with over 12,700 other dolls. I carried with me a passport, steamship ticket, a change of clothing, and a message that said, "To all the children of Japan. We are visiting Japan as friendship messengers, and we will participate in Japan's Doll Festival in 1927."

The people who sent us to Japan were members of the "Committee on World Friendship Among Children." This group, led by Dr. Sidney Gulick, organized a movement to achieve "world peace through children." The relations between Japan and America in those days were not very friendly, even though war had not yet started.

Sidney Gulick, who had lived in Japan for over 20 years, had the wish that the children of Japan and America could develop friendly relations between the two countries, so it was decided that we would be given to Japan. In response to his appeal, children in America contributed their pocket money and bought us. They then dressed us in handmade clothes and sent us to Japan. We arrived at Yokohama Harbor, and then we were distributed to schools throughout Japan. A total of 326 dolls came to Hiroshima Prefecture.

Fifty-eight Ambassador Dolls (Torei Ningyo), who were larger than us, were given to America by Japan as a thank-you gift. Even now over half of these dolls remain in good condition and are displayed. In those days, both the Japanese Ambassador Dolls and we were welcomed and were taken good care of in each country. We were displayed together with the Japanese hina dolls, went with the children on school outings, viewed the schools' sports days, and participated in school events.

However, on December 8, 1941 (Japanese time), Japan went to war with America, the country that had sent us. We were treated terribly as hated dolls of the enemy. We were burned, stabbed with bamboo spears, and stomped on. Almost all of our doll friends lost their lives.

However, in 1973 the story of the survival of our friend Mary in Gunma Prefecture was shown on television. After this program, many people remembered us again, and they searched for us. When the current school building was built in 1976, I was found hidden far back in a storage room at the time they were moving from the old school building. Now about 300 of our friends have been found. In Hiroshima Prefecture there are four dolls, including me. It hurts to think of what happened to the over 12,700 dolls that came together to Japan.

However, in 1987, exactly 60 years after Dr. Gulick had sent us to Japan, our younger sisters started to be sent to Japan by Dr. Gulick's grandson, Mr. Gulick, 3d, as a bridge of peace and friendship between the children of Japan and America. Susan came to our school, Nigata Elementary, on February 15, 1997. We want to consider the importance of human rights, and together with Susan everyone at Nigata Elementary School wishes for peace and close friendships.

This is an English translation of a Japanese web page (link no longer available).
Special thanks to Nigata Elementary School for permission to publish this web page.

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