Nagasaki Tamako, also known as Miss Nagasaki, is an Ambassador Doll
- one of 58 sent from Japan to America in 1927 as part of an
exchange of dolls between children of the two lands. The dolls'
mission is to promote understanding between nations through
friendship among children. Nagasaki Tamako has been in the
collection of the Rochester Museum & Science Center since 1929.
Her story spans nearly 100 years: with beginnings as a goodwill gesture in
1927, she travelled throughout the United States, spent decades
under the wrong name, was reidentified as a result of a
researcher's quest, and now carries out her renewed mission
in another century. Many children and adults have been drawn into
her story over time, and her message of peace and goodwill remains
as profound today as when she first began her journey.
For many contemporary Americans this story, taken literally, may
not at first seem believable. The pace of life, and to a certain
extent, values and priorities, were in many ways so different in
1927 that to attach such importance to objects often thought of as
mere playthings may seem incongruous. There are gulfs of cultures
and time to be bridged in order to fully appreciate the
significance of Nagasaki Tamako and her sisters - dolls are
perceived and valued differently in America than they are in
traditional Japanese culture, and differently now than they were in
the world of 1927. However, it will be seen that the friendship
doll exchanges have continued to touch young and old alike, and
that their messages of peace and understanding have an added
significance in post-war times. This story, then, can be a pathway
and a link to another time and another culture for the interested
explorer, as well as an inspiration for us today.
This website provides some background on the friendship doll
exchanges between Japan and the United States, and additional
information in print and on the web is referenced so that you can
explore further. Details are given on Nagasaki Tamako herself, her
story in Rochester, and her homecoming in 2003. Objects
from the RMSC's collections related to the Friendship Doll
exchanges are also illustrated. Click on the topics in the outline
at left of each page to navigate through the site.
If you enjoy this site, please
let us know and
please visit the RMSC
Collections & Research Homepage to see some of our other
The RMSC gratefully thanks all those who helped in the development
of this site or gave permission to use images and text, especially:
Mr. William Gordon has created and maintains an excellent website on the
Friendship Dolls which covers a great many aspects of the topic in
detail. His site, at
http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/, is highly recommended
and was of great help in preparing this site.
Many other sources, both print and web-based, were consulted in the
creation of this site. The Bibliography provides an extensive
print resource list, with annotations. Links to selected websites are
provided on many of the pages of this site for those who wish to
explore the subject further.