Maker of Ichimatsu Dolls
   Toko Shokansai  
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Brief Personal History
May 1928Born in Tokyo.
1950Started study under Toko Shokansai I.
1985Visited government offices in Rotterdam, Holland.
Presentation and exhibition of Ichimatsu Dolls.
1986Restored 90-cm-tall Torei Ningyo (Doll of Gratitude) named Miss Hideko Yamato, and made Mister Fujio Yamato. These dolls were presented to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., where they were exhibited.
1988Recognized as Designated Traditional Artisan by the Mayor of Tokyo.
1989Former American President Ford and his wife presented with boy and girl Ichimatsu Dolls (53-cm tall).
1990Restored the 85-cm-tall Ichimatsu Doll named Miss Osaka, which was given to America in 1927 for the purpose of friendship and goodwill.
1994Made a 53-cm-tall Ichimatsu Doll specially ordered by Noh Master Kyusaku Nomura for use on stage.
Made and presented a 53-cm-tall Ichimatsu Doll specially ordered by Crown Princess Masako.
Restored the 85-cm-tall Torei Ningyo named Miss Nara, which went to America in 1927.
1995Restored 85-cm-tall Miss Toyama and Miss Gifu, two Torei Ningyo.

Friendship Dolls and Torei Ningyo (Dolls of Gratitude)

In the early spring of 1927, an international exchange took place between the children of Japan and America. Over 12,000 "Blue-eyed Dolls" from America were distributed one each to elementary schools and kindergartens throughout Japan.

In those days the Showa Era had begun after the death of the Taisho Emperor in 1926, and it was a period when an economic recession was worsening and when thought control was beginning to become more strict. In America, anti-Japanese sentiment was growing with some calling for expulsion of Japanese immigrants, and the U.S. Congress passed a "New Immigration Law" barring Japanese immigration.

In contrast, some American people sympathized with the Japanese immigrants who faced great difficulties. The realization of a doll exchange was one way they thought would improve the situation by fostering mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and America.

In response to the "Blue-eyed Dolls" that arrived in the spring of 1927, it was decided to give Ichimatsu Dolls to represent Japan. With money from the contributions of one sen (a half cent) each from elementary school students, first-class doll makers in Tokyo and Kyoto made 58 Ichimatsu Dolls. Since the "Blue-eyed Dolls" from America were sent for Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival), the Torei Ningyo (Dolls of Gratitude) from Japan were made quickly so they would arrive in time for Christmas. In the fall of 1927, the Torei Ningyo were sent from Japan and distributed as Friendship Ambassadors to each state in America.

My father Toko Shokansai I made 12 of the 58 dolls, including Miss Hokkaido, Miss Yamagata, and Miss Toyama, which were named as representatives of Japan. Many of the doll makers responsible for making the dolls at that time have gone out of business. I think that I am the only one of them who has carried on the tradition and skill from those days.

Toko Shokansai II                      

This is an English translation of a Japanese web page (link no longer available).
Special thanks to Toko Shokansai and Hashimotoya Dolls for permission to publish this web page.

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