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Japanese Friendship Dolls

Miss Tottori

Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society, Pierre

Each of the 58 Japanese Friendship Dolls came to America dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono made of the finest silk. Each doll's kimono has a distinct color scheme and pattern. The lavishly colored kimonos have elaborate designs of flowers or other objects from nature such as cranes or butterflies.

The kimono colors of the different dolls cover a wide range, as can be seen by looking at the kimonos of the following dolls:

Over the many years since 1927, most of the kimonos have become faded. However, some of the dolls have returned to Japan, where the kimonos' colors have been restored to their original brilliance.

The kimono is worn with an obi, a wide, long sash wrapped around the waist and a little higher so that it covers the ribs. The obi is tied at the back with a very special fastening kept in place by as many as 15 girdles of silk or brocade worn around the middle of the obi.

During the Japanese Friendship Dolls' tour of the U.S. in 1928, some people undressed and dressed back the dolls, but not always with the same kimono.  For example, Miss Shizuoka, stored in the Kansas City Museum, currently wears the kimono of Miss Kobe. This can be determined because the kimono worn by Miss Shizuoka has the mark of the city of Kobe. The Japanese Friendship Doll in Denver was long thought to be Miss Niigata, but it was discovered in the mid-1990s that the doll wore a kimono with the woven crest of the city of Yokohama. Later, it was determined that the Friendship Doll in Denver is really Miss Yokohama.

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