Translated from article in Yomiuri Shimbun, January 10, 2002

Dolls of Gratitude Also Sent From
Schools With Blue-eyed Dolls

Miss Fukue Atsumi
Confirmed to be in America

Toyokawa City Reseacher, Mr. Natsume, Receives Photo

It has been determined that a few Japanese elementary schools that received "Blue-eyed Dolls" in the late 1920s from the U.S. as symbols of Japanese-American friendship gave Japanese Ichimatsu dolls to America as messengers to show their gratitude. Until now it has been thought that the "Japanese Dolls of Gratitude (Torei Ningyo)" were only the 58 dolls bearing the names of the prefectures and large cities of Japan. These 58 dolls were made and given to America after collecting one sen (about a half cent) each from girls at schools that received dolls from America.

The newly-discovered sender of one of these dolls is Fukue Elementary School in Atsumi Town (previously Fukue Common School in Atsumi-gun) in Aichi Prefecture. In 1927, this school gave a Japanese Ichimatsu doll to the Sunday school class of a Presbyterian church in Fullerton, a suburb of Los Angeles, California.

The person who confirmed this story is former junior high school teacher Katsuhiro Natsume (59), who is a resident of Zoshi in Toyokawa City in Aichi Prefecture and who is researching the "Blue-eyed Doll" exchange. In the first part of November 2001 he received a photo of the doll from a person at the Fullerton City Library, where they have the doll called "Miss Fukue Atsumi."

The doll photo shows the words, "Fukue Atsumi is coming to your country as a messenger."

Late last year Mr. Natsume also found out that the Newark Museum in New Jersey has a photo of "Miss Okazaki," an Ichimatsu doll given jointly by seven schools that received Blue-eyed Dolls in Okazaki City in Aichi Prefecture.

An American missionary, concerned about the course of Japanese-American relations, promoted the Blue-eyed Dolls as a sign of friendship. About 12,700 dolls crossed the ocean to Japan, and they were given to schools throughout the country.

"It's strange that this story was not known until now," says Mr. Natsume. "There must be other Dolls of Gratitude (Torei Ningyo) sent by other prefectures."

The leading expert on "Blue-eyed Doll," Tokyo resident Ms. Eiko Takeda (71), says, "This is the first I have heard of other Torei Ningyo. This finding can confirm the continuing reach of the exchange, which was not known until this. The doll exchange now has developed into such activities as home stays for children. Searching for the starting point of these activities has deep significance."

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