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The Doll Ambassadors

Reception for 58 Ambassador Dolls in San Francisco

Welcoming Reception Held for 58 Doll Ambassadors
SanFrancisco, CA, November, 1927

In return for the friendship gift of the "blue-eyed" dolls, 2,610,000 Japanese primary and kindergarten school girls contributed money to commission the construction, outfitting, and delivery of 58 formal presentation Doll Ambassadors to be sent to the children of America. Additional funds were contributed by H.R.H. Princess Teru. One of the dolls was a gift from the Imperial family, six others represented the six largest cities in Japan, 4 represented colonies, and each of the remaining dolls represented one of Japan's 47 prefectures. Each doll bore the name of its sponsoring city or prefecture.

The dolls were shipped by steamship, each with her own ticket, passport, and a steamer trunk containing all manner of accessories: clothing, cosmetics, furniture, musical instruments, tea sets, flags, dishware, etc. The ambassadors were received with great ceremony, and for six months toured all over the United States, individually, and in groups, to be viewed by children and adults throughout the land. Finally, the dolls were assigned one to each state, with additional dolls going to large cities. Miss Japan made her permanent home at the Smithsonian Institution. Almost forgotten after World War II, a few of the dolls have passed into private hands, but many of the others are still cared for in museums, and several have been exhibited in recent years in the United States and Japan as interest in the friendship dolls has increased over the past 20 years. The whereabouts of a total of 44 of the original Ambassadors are currently known, and the search for the missing dolls continues.

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