I wish you could have seen some of the
welcome ceremonies the friendship dolls received. Receptions were given to them
by the highest officials of the land just as if they had been real ambassadors
Officials in the prefectural office had a ship built of paper with the sea
all around, the ship just entering Yokohama harbor. The dolls were on deck or
peeping from the portholes with coats and hats on, all ready to land. Japanese
dolls stood on the pier ready to welcome them, waving the American and Japanese
Next scene: American dolls were being shown the wonders of the city, Japanese
dolls acting as guides.
Next scene: All were seated around tables at a welcome banquet. A lovely
Japanese lady doll was giving an address of welcome, while a number of elegantly
dressed ladies and gentlemen in waiting were ready to serve the guests, and
little maids in kimonos waited on table.
Then came the tea party at Miyajima. The dolls were sitting on the green lawn
or in rustic seats or by the seaside, having such a good time. One was so tired
that she was in the hotel taking a rest. One was in such a funny position that I
asked if she had been broken on the way, and then happened to glance at the
notice, which said: "I can do my hands and feet any way I like."
This exhibit, the most beautiful display of dolls I ever saw, was in the
Commercial Museum, a large modern building. From morning till late at night
crowds flocked to see it. So many came that from time to time the gates had to
be shut to keep the crowds back until the building could be partly emptied. This
scene continued for a week. The last night at ten o'clock more crowds were
waiting to get in.
After this the dolls were distributed to the various schools and
kindergartens throughout the prefecture.
The most touching of the ceremonies I witnessed was at a country school where
never before had any foreigner come. The school principal sent an invitation for
us to come and present the doll. The whole village took a holiday. It was a
perfect day. The school was by the seashore. The mountain had been dug down to
make room for the buildings. The special guests of honor were the people of the
village over seventy-five years old. A delegation met us at the train and
escorted us through the village to the school. As we passed, children were
standing to bow welcome; Miss Maddox, the kindergartner, said she realized how
royalty must feel. The school grounds were gay with flags of all nations. The
assembly room was decorated with cherry blossoms. On a platform the usual tiers
of doll festival type were at the back, with the dolls arranged according to
custom. All the guests except the Americans were seated on the floor in front of
the platform. The children were seated around the guests, packed so thick that
not an inch of floor was left. It was a sea of black hair, shining eyes, and
rosy cheeks, a glowing background to the weather-beaten faces of the old folks
in the village.
After the singing of the Japanese national hymn (they made an apology for not
being able to sing the American national air), we three visiting Americans met
two Japanese children, a boy and a girl, on the platform. Margaret Cobb carried
the doll, and after due bowings presented the doll in behalf of the children of
America. The Japanese girl received the doll. Then the boy received it from the
girl and held it very tenderly and carefully, while the girl presented Margaret
with a present in memory of the occasion. The two girls clasped hands. The
enthusiastic clapping of hands made it seem as if the roof might be lifted. On
many an old wrinkled face, hardened by years of toil on the sea or land, there
were tears of joy; the grandchildren and great-grandchildren had come into a
beautiful inheritance-- friendship between the two countries that could insure
the peace of the Pacific. These young folks would not be called on to support
large navies or go to war, but could pursue the arts of peace, making their
country rich through the service of her people in productive work.
After the ceremony was over, of course there must be a photograph. No
function in Japan is ever complete without a photograph to keep the occasion
green in memory. The doll was the child in the midst, the emblem of friendship
Dinner was served to all guests. They had sent to the city and ordered a
course dinner for the American guests, as they feared we could not eat the
Japanese food. We assured them we were happy to sit on the floor and partake of
the same food as the others. As we ate, different ones had some word to say of
the joy of the day. One old man came and sat by me, saying it was very impolite
of him to speak to me while I was eating, but he was so happy he could not refrain
from expressing his gratitude. Never before in this village had foreigners and
Japanese sat and partaken of food together. One old man said he had seen the
reign of four emperors, but never before had he witnessed anything like this.
Someone should write a book on the reception of these dolls. History gives us
nothing like it.