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1927 Doll Exchange
Historical Background
Dr. Sidney L. Gulick
Eiichi Shibusawa
Mission of Friendship
Preparations in US
Receipt of Dolls in Japan
Preparations in Japan
Receipt of Dolls in US

1927 Doll Exchange
Receipt of Dolls in US

Welcome to Torei Ningyo in December 1927 at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C. This commemorative photo shows Dr. Sidney Gulick and Ambassador Matsudaira standing in the back row. 


Americans warmly welcomed the Japanese Torei Ningyo (Dolls of Gratitude) when they arrived in America.  These Japanese doll ambassadors traveled thousands of miles during six consecutive months.

With a brief stop in Honolulu, the Japanese Friendship Dolls arrived in San Francisco, where they were enthusiastically greeted by many people.

From San Francisco, 17 of the dolls traveled overland, and the remainder continued on by ship through the Panama Canal to Washington, D.C.

On the morning of December 27, the national ceremony of welcome took place at the National Theater in Washington, D.C., before a large audience. The Japanese Ambassador, Tsuneo Matsudaira, made a delightful speech about how these 58 fellow ambassadors would assist him in his duties. On behalf of the school children of Japan, Miss Masa Matsudaira, the young daughter of Ambassador Matsudaira, presented Miss Japan to the children of America, saying:

I am glad to present to the children of America in the name of Japanese children fifty-eight dolls. Last spring the American children sent many lovely dolls to Japan They brought your goodwill and friendship. Our little girls were very happy to receive these gifts and are having a good time with them.

Japanese children are very anxious to be your friends, and these fifty-eight dolls have come here to bring this wish from two million and half children in my country.

We hope that you will like these messengers of friendship, and that they will received into your homes as beloved members of your families.

The next stop of the Japanese Friendship Dolls was New York City. After the dolls' visit to New York, the Japanese Friendship Dolls toured the country for several months in 1928.

The dolls were divided into six groups, with each group going to a different region of the country. The Historical Society of Delaware has a photograph of a display of one of these groups (total of nine dolls). Each group would then be divided up into parties of two or three for visits to smaller communities. The reception in South Bend, Indiana, for three of the dolls was typical of the welcome given to the little ambassadors from Japan. 

The Committee on World Friendship Among Children received numerous requests on how to put together a program to welcome the Japanese Friendship Dolls, so a suggested program was prepared and distributed throughout the country. The program included a song and poem written especially to greet the 58 doll ambassadors from Japan. 

The beautiful dolls were placed in museums and public libraries around the country, with favor given to children's museums. However, in 1928 few states as yet had children's museums. Each state was to receive one doll, and a few states received more than one doll.  Miss Japan made her home at the National Museum (now part of the Smithsonian Institution) in Washington, D.C.

Photo courtesy of Shibusawa Memorial Museum, Tokyo

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