1927 – U.S. ships 12,000 dolls to Japan

I’ve always enjoyed reading, but lately I couldn’t find a book to keep my attention. Still determined, I kept searching the online library for that special book to read. BINGO, I came across a book by Shirley Parenteau, “Ship of Dolls.”

A ship full of dolls, the title caught my attention. I wanted to know more. What was this ship of dolls and was it a true story? Apparently, this is a true story. This particular book is a work of fiction / historical novel, but there are other books that tell the exact story. I had NO idea.

This Friendship Doll exchange began in response to the Immigration Act of 1924. This Act banned the immigration of Japanese and other Asian nationals into the U.S..

In 1927, Sidney Gulick, an educator and missionary, together with the Protestant churches on the East Coast collected over 12,000 dolls from American children and sent them to Japanese children as a gesture of goodwill and friendship. Gulick started the Friendship Doll project to express his disagreement with the Immigration Act of 1924. He wanted children in the world to appreciate peace and friendship. Diplomacy through children / gift giving.

Eiichi Shibusawa an industrialist, wanted to return the gesture, so manufactured 58 Japanese Dolls and sent them to America. When tensions between U.S. and Japan grew during World War II, Japan destroyed some of the American dolls. American museums kept the Japanese dolls out of exhibition during this time.

Here’s a YouTube video: ARTifacts: Japanese Friendship Doll.

This is a fascinating part of history. I just started reading the Ship of Dolls, so cannot offer a review. As you see, I got side tracked from the book, while researching the Friendship Dolls.

Now, back to reading the book…

5 thoughts on “1927 – U.S. ships 12,000 dolls to Japan

  1. I’ve never heard about these dolls or perhaps I forgot the mention during grade-school history. The notion of educating children on diplomacy seems like an effective approach to begin to repair relations (ex. Russia) As your first commenter suggests, it’s a shame this gesture in today’s world would be perceived as the veil over more formidable intentions.

    Liked by 1 person

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