Friendship Visit by Margaret Corbet to
Wachi and Meitoku Elementary Schools
May 2003

Margaret Corbet Talking to Students
at Wachi Elementary School

In May 2003, Margaret Corbet visited two schools in Gifu Prefecture to show her Japanese Friendship Doll, Miss Miyagi. When Mrs. Corbet, a resident of Kansas, planned her trip to Japan, she wanted to go to Gifu City, since she had lived there for about a year in 1946 and 1947. Her husband had been in the American military stationed there during the American occupation of Japan after World War II.

Margaret Corbet owns one of the 58 original Friendship Dolls sent by Japan in 1927 as a return present for over 12,000 American dolls received by Japanese children earlier that year. Mrs. Corbet enjoys showing her doll to children in Kansas, and she has lent her doll a couple of times for special exhibitions at the St. Joseph Museum in the neighboring state of Missouri.

Girls at Meitoku Elementary School
with New Doll from
Margaret Corbet
Mrs. Corbet and her daughter, Dody Burkey, visited two elementary schools in Gifu Prefecture in order to show Miss Miyagi to the students. Wachi Elementary School has an original Blue-eyed Doll named Pathelo from 1927 and a new Blue-eyed Doll named Diane who was given to the school in 1995.

Pathelo was saved from destruction during World War II by a teacher named Masao Mizutani, who believed the doll had done nothing wrong. He hid Pathelo in the school's science room to save her from destruction for being a spy from America. When Mr. Mizutani died in 1993, Pathelo attended his funeral.

On May 28, Miss Miyagi had a chance to meet Wachi Elementary School's two Blue-eyed Dolls, Pathelo and Diane (see top photo). In addition to the students at Wachi, Mrs. Corbet met a son and a daughter of the teacher who had saved Pathelo. Mrs. Corbet said, "I am very impressed at Mr. Mizutani's courage in protecting this Friendship Doll."

On May 29, Mrs. Corbet and her daughter Dody visited Meitoku Elementary School, which received a new Blue-eyed Doll named Marion in 1996 from Sidney Gulick, 3d, grandson of the organizer of the original doll exchange in 1927. Meitoku Elementary School also hosted Miss Gifu on her homecoming visit to Gifu Prefecture in 1995. During Mrs. Corbet's visit to Meitoku, she presented the children with a new American friendship doll. Mrs. Corbet and her daughter Dody were very impressed with Meitoku's wonderful museum of Japanese history, and they enjoyed attending a calligraphy class where they tried to write some Japanese characters.

Display about Blue-eyed Dolls
of Gifu Prefecture
The week before Margaret Corbet and her daughter Dody arrived in Gifu Prefecture, the Gifu Shimbun published an article saying that the two women would like to try to meet some of their previous neighbors when they lived in Gifu City 56 years ago. The article also included a 1947 photo of the two in Gifu.  Miraculously, Kunitaka Sugita responded to the newspaper article’s request since he was a young child who had lived next door to their home. The two women met Mr. Sugita at their hotel in Gifu City on May 28.  Mrs. Corbet said to him, “Your grandmother always made baked apples for us.” Dody said as she fondly remembered that time, “You were my only playmate back then.” Mr. Sugita said with a laugh, “An event so sudden as this surprised me.  But when I saw the photo in the newspaper, my memories returned.”

Prior to their arrival in Gifu Prefecture, Mrs. Corbet and her daughter Dody also visited Miyagi Prefecture, where Miss Miyagi was displayed for five days at the Sendai City Museum of History and Folklore.  The special exhibition also included the eight American Friendship Dolls from 1927 that still remain in Miyagi Prefecture.

Friendship Visits Index

Page on Wachi Elementary School's Blue-eyed Doll
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Dody Burkey (photos)

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