Miss Wakayama ~ Japanese Friendship Doll ~

Archive for June, 2011
Saturday, June 11th, 2011
Our local doll club took a field trip to the Nevada Historical Society in early June to visit ” Miss Wakayama ~ Japanese Friendship Doll”.
Japanese Friendship dolls ~Torei Ningyo~ are a type of Ichimatsu dolls which were sent to US from Japan in 1927 to show gratitude for the Blue – Eyed dolls that were sent to Japanese children from US in early 1927.
Originally 58 Ichimatsu dolls were sent and each of the dolls were equipped with a variety of accessories including lacquer chests,silk parasols, lanterns,passports,steamship tickets and goodwill letters.
Unfortunately some of them were lost or misplaced over the years especially during WWII. Forty six of them are known to exist as of today.
 The Nevada Historical Society in Reno received one of the Friendship dolls, Miss Wakayama, in 1928. After they toured around cities of US, she has been on permanent display at the museum.
I was born and raised in Japan but I knew very little about Ichimatsu dolls and had no knowledge about Friendship dolls until one of my doll club members mentioned about them.
Since then I did more research and discover the beauty and wonderful history of Ichimatsu dolls. Now I truly appreciate the fact that we have one of this friendship doll in town and being able to see the doll with such a remarkable history.
The moment I saw her, I could only say “Wow”. Our Miss Wakayama is about 30 inches tall and she is displayed with her beautiful accessories such as lacquer chests, tea ceremony set, slippers and umbrella.
Her facial painting is a work of art. She has eye lashes and two rows of teeth with open mouth which is kind of rare among Friendship dolls.
She has this divine smile which looks almost like a real child, as if you can hear her breathing. It is a true master artist’s work to create such “look”.
Her silk kimono has clam patterns at the bottom which is original to her. Each Friendship doll has a name to represent each prefecture in Japan, and Wakayama prefecture is known for clam harvesting.
I believe that’s where her kimono patterns originated.
She is still missing some of her belongings because many Friendship dolls and their belongings did not travel together during the tour after they arrived in US.
The Historical Society director told us that they are still trying to locate some of her original belongings including her passport.
There are 45 more Friendship dolls located all over the US. One of them, Miss Japan, is in the Smithsonian Museum.
From this site you can check to see if your city has a doll .
I would definitely recommend going to see a Friendship doll if you have one nearby.

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