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The American Friendship Dolls sent to Japan in 1927 are usually called "Blue-eyed Dolls" in Japan. Although many of the dolls did not actually have blue eyes, they were named after the popular children's song "Blue-eyed Doll." This song, composed in 1921, tells the story of a doll that arrived in Japan from America. The doll in the song wants the Japanese girls to be her friends and play with her.
The nearly 13,000 American dolls attended huge welcome parties throughout Japan, and they were later distributed throughout the country to elementary schools and kindergartens. Each doll had its own name, passport, steamship ticket, and letter written by the doll's sender. These dolls made Japanese children very happy.
Although America sent over 12,000 dolls to Japanese schools, many of the dolls were destroyed or lost during World War II, when Japan and the U.S. were bitter enemies. Only 300 of the original Blue-eyed Dolls sent in 1927 have been found, but they are treasured by the students and teachers at the schools where they are kept.
Japanese students from kindergarten to junior high school enjoy and learn from the American Blue-eyed Dolls. The following stories tell about the activities of a kindergarten, an elementary school, and a junior high school in Japan.
Since 1986, the grandson of Dr. Sidney Gulick, who coordinated the original Friendship Doll project in 1927, has been sending new dolls to Japanese schools. The over 100 dolls that he and his wife have given are very much appreciated by Japanese elementary schools and kindergartens. Through these dolls Japanese children realize the desire for friendship and peace felt by people living in America.
Photo at top left courtesy of
Sanbongi Elementary School (Miyagi Prefecture)
Photo at top right courtesy of Fuchi News Sokuho (Hiroshima Prefecture)