Photo of Miss Kagoshima
In early May, I received an e-mail note from Rosie Skiles, one of the leaders
of J.A.D.E. (Japanese Asian Doll Enthusiasts) who has done much research on
the Japanese Friendship Dolls from 1927. She mentioned at the end of her note
that Mr. Sumio Nemoto of Yamakataya Department Store was very appreciative of
the new Friendship Dolls sent to Kagoshima by J.A.D.E. members, and Rosie
hoped more people would join in this effort. My wife and I planned to go to
Kagoshima Prefecture for 3 or 4 days during our 2003 vacation to Japan in
order to visit the Kamikaze Peace Museum in Chiran and the Air Base Museum in
Kanoya, so we thought this would be a good opportunity to see Mr. Nemoto in
I scheduled the visit for Sunday, thinking this would be a free day that Mr.
Nemoto could meet with us. But Sunday is the busiest day for a Japanese
department store, and most employees work on this day. However, Mr. Nemoto
and Ichiro Sakamoto, two of the organizers of the December 2002 Miss
Kagoshima Homecoming Exhibition, met with us for over an hour.
Mr. Nemoto and Mr. Sakamoto had many Friendship Doll materials ready when we
arrived. They showed us many photos from the December 2002 exhibition, and they
explained some of the exhibition items in addition to Miss Kagoshima. These
included the only American Friendship Doll left in Miyazaki Prefecture, an
American Friendship Doll borrowed from Yoshitoku Doll Company in Tokyo, 1927
newspaper articles about the arrival of the American Friendship Dolls, and 17
thank-you letters sent in 1927 by the children of Kagoshima together with Miss
Kagoshima. Yamakataya also exhibited a note from Rosie Skiles, who in 1997
found Miss Kagoshima in the Phoenix History Museum after having been in storage
for many years. Mr. Nemoto and Mr. Sakamoto gave us a beautiful framed photo of
Miss Kagoshima, which we placed in our living room upon returning home. They
also provided other materials for my Friendship Dolls web site, including
newspaper articles, a copy of one of the 1927 letters from a Kagoshima school,
a video of the opening ceremony for the exhibition, and a video of various
television news clips about the exhibition.
None of the 209 American Friendship Dolls sent to Kagoshima Prefecture in
1927 have been found because they were destroyed or lost during World War II.
However, some members of J.A.D.E. have sent new Friendship Dolls to Kagoshima
with the coordination of Yamakataya Department Store. For example, Jinpu Gakuen
received two dolls from Lucille Supple. This school has 86 students from grades 1 to 12,
and it serves as a residential school for neglected or abused children. The children showed their appreciation for the dolls in
thank-you letters, such as one below from a girl at the school:
Dear Lucille Supple,
Hello. My name is Azusa Shirahama, and I live in Kagoshima Prefecture.
On March 17, the dolls named Anna Mae and Pauli arrived. Both Anna Mae and
Pauli are very cute, and they are now on display.
I also have a sister two years younger than I. I was very surprised
that you made both of my very close friends Anna Mae and Pauli by hand.
You wrote that you really like to make children happy. I also love
children. Especially, I think than Anna is really cute with her
well-matched clothes and hat filled with much tender love from you.
In the future I want the dolls to be displayed as our treasures. I
think there are many things ahead for us. Please take good care of
yourself. I also want to try to do my best.
Miss Kagoshima's homecoming and these new dolls from J.A.D.E. members have
revived in Kagoshima Prefecture the dolls' message of friendship and peace