The Kobe Shimbun

Blue-eyed Doll from Kobe to LA after 75 years
July 2, 2002

The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles has gathered together several "Blue-eyed Dolls" given to Japanese children by America before World War II, and at the end of this month the special exhibition "Passports to Friendship" will open at the museum. Yoshihiro Miki, a curator at the museum and a native of Kobe, says, "We want to reexamine the starting point of the grassroots friendship between Japan and America.

In 1927, 13,000 dolls were given by America to Japan. The "Anti-Japanese Immigration Act" was enacted, and Japanese-American relations continued to worsen. The idea of missionary Dr. Sidney L. Gulick, a Japanese supporter, was to "entrust to the children the future of both countries."

Afterward, Japan and America plunged into war. Many of the "enemy dolls" were burned and destroyed. Only 300 dolls remain in all Japan.

One of the remaining dolls is at Konan Kindergarten in Higashinada Ward of Kobe City. Mr. Miki, who visited in February to examine the doll, was surprised at how well it has been preserved. The kindergarten gladly consented to have the doll included in the LA exhibition.

As a thank-you gift for the Blue-eyed Dolls, Japan gave 58 Japanese dolls to America. Eight of these dolls will be displayed at the special exhibition. Photos from that time trace the contributions of the exchange, and the exhibit includes photos of Japanese-American friendship assemblies and Japanese immigrants.

Mr. Miki enthusiastically says, "We want to communicate to today's Americans the zeal of both countries' citizens from 75 years ago.

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