Unintentional Cooperation

The Friendship Doll Mission and the Inescapable American Image of the Kimono-clad Little Japanese Girl

in Journal of Japonisme
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Abstract

This study of the Friendship Doll Mission of 1926-1927 shows how, in the United States, the Japanese doll was part of the inescapable image of a kimono-clad little Japanese girl, and functioned to further existing anti-Japanese implications of that image. It further shows how an American popular-culture mission to improve relations with Japan by having American children exchange dolls with Japanese children, created an official, Japanese government response that presented the United States with Japanese dolls that were objects of Fine Art. Despite the different views of the Doll Mission in Japan and the US, an interchange resulted that, now nearly a century later, continues. The article uses Japanese dolls to demonstrate how genuine cultural exchange can occur even when the methods, approaches, and the very intent of those involved in it differ, in order to highlight the importance of considering both perspectives to understand phenomena such as Japonisme.

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Figures
  • View in gallery
    Swifts & Co. Premium Butterine (advertising postcard). 1908. Chromolithograph with divided back. 14 × 9 cm. Author’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    Committee on World Friendship Among Children. Doll Messengers of Friendship. 1926 Offset printed on glossy paper. 21.59 cm × 27.94 cm. Author’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown photographer. Miss America doll and passport. 1926. Commemorative postcard. Offset printing on card. 14 × 9 cm. Private collection, used by permission.
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    Dollhouse donated by Empress Kōjun as it was on display at the Tokyo Educational Museum. 1927. Gulick Family Archive, used by permission.
  • View in gallery
    Hōryūsai. Miss Chosen. 1927. 85.09 cm tall. Miss Chosen is one of the 58 Ambassador Dolls sent from Japan in 1927. She represents Korea, then called Chosen, one of the four colonies of Japan at that time. Brauer Museum of Art Collection. Gift of Denny and Frances Gulick, 2013. Photograph by Mark Gulezian. Used by permission.
  • View in gallery
    Unknown photographer. Mayor Walker welcoming the Friendship Dolls for New York. December 1927. Kermit Roosevelt’s daughter, Belle Wyatt (“Clochette,” 1919-1985), is holding Miss Japan next to the Mayor. Sidney L. Gulick stands to the left in the second row with Sekiya Ryūkichi of the Japanese Ministry of Education. Gulick Family Archive, used by permission.
  • View in gallery
    Rotary Photographic Series. Caucasian woman in kimono. Message dated March 15, 1910. Continuous tone photographic image on card stock. 13.7 × 8.7 cm. Note the parasol and doll and the more Chinese than Japanese name of Choo Lee in the poem at the bottom. This postcard was sent in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh. The message written on the back has nothing to do with the image on the card. Author’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    Stephen James Ferris after Charles Dater Weldon, Dream-Land. 1883. Etching, 41.3 × 64.3 cm. Library of Congress Popular Graphic Arts collection. LCCN 97501308 tif #13477, in the public domain.
  • View in gallery
    William Chase Merritt. The Japanese Doll. 1890. Oil on canvas. 50.8 × 76.2 cm. Private collection, in the public domain.
  • View in gallery
    Thomas Nast. Merry Old Santa Claus. Harper’s Weekly, January 1, 1881. Wood engraving. 35.5 × 50.8 cm. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
  • View in gallery
    A.A. Vantine’s, the Oriental Store. Japanese Dolls (advertisement). 1919 Catalog, p. 12. Offset printing on glossy paper. 20.96 × 15.24 cm. Note that the boy dolls no longer look like the “Jappy” dolls with hair fringe and bald pate, but have a full head of hair as an ichimatsu doll. Author’s collection, in the public domain.
  • View in gallery
    Clara Bell Thurston. Jingle of a Jap, title page. H.M. Caldwell. 1908. Color lithograph book, printed cloth cover, lithograph printed case. Book: 22.8 × 18 × 1.2 m, case: 23.5 × 19.2 × 4.8 cm, doll: 10.5 cm tall. Author’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    Gazō Foudji (Fuji). Frontispiece from The Love of Azalea by Onoto Watanna [Winifred Eaton], Dodd, Mead, and Company, New York. 1904. Color offset print. 39.8 × 27 cm. Author’s collection, in the public domain.
  • View in gallery
    C. Yarnell Abbott. Madame Butterfly. 1903. Photogravure frontispiece to John Luther Long’s book Madame Butterfly. Abbott’s (1870-1938) illustrations for the book were all photographed in his studio using Caucasian “girls with adaptable features” according to The Lamp, Vol. XXVII, 1904, which must have resonated with his American female audience. Author’s collection, in the public domain.
  • View in gallery
    Leopoldo Metlicovitz (1868-1944). Postcard #219 (Adelaide Pinkerton demands Butterfly’s child). Signed LM. Undivided back. Published by G. Ricordi and Company, Milan, 1904. Lithograph on paper. 14 × 9 cm. Part of a 12-card set published to commemorate the première of Puccini’s opera. Author’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    Lafcadio Hearn, translator. Kasson [Kason/Shoson] Yoshimune illustrator. Five-book set of Japanese fairy tales. C. 1898-1922. Originally sold in a wrap-around cover with bone clasps. Published by T. Hasegawa and successors, Tokyo. Color woodblock prints on crêpe paper, silk stab ties. Each book 13.8 × 19.3 cm. Ruth A. Ruege Collection, used by permission.
  • View in gallery
    Gazō Foudji (Fuji). Ladies Home Journal, cover art. June 1904. Color offset print. 40 × 27.3 cm. Author’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    Suzuki Harunobu. Two Girls on a veranda beside a stream with the moon. Polychrome woodblock print. Ink and color on paper, 27.9 cm × 21.3 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1929. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
  • View in gallery
    Claudia Bignion. Geisha and maiko, Kyoto, Japan. February 25, 2009. Digital photograph <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. Note the differences between the geisha in front and the maiko behind her.
  • View in gallery
    (a) Noritake Company, Nagoya, Japan. Teruha. C. 1915. Lithophane porcelain teacup. 5.5h × 9.5cm circumference. (b) Printer unknown. Teruha. 1910. Offset on matte paper. 14 x 9 cm. The same image that appears on one of Teruha’s postcards appears in the bottom of exported lithophane teacups where she could be seen everyday. Both author’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    Lillian May Miller. The Garden Gate, Omori, Japan. 1928. Color woodcut on paper. 34.2 x 34.7 cm. Ruth A. Ruege Collection, Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana, used with permission.
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    Bertha Lum. Kites. 1913. Color woodcut on paper. 20.8 x 37.1 cm. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
  • View in gallery
    Helen Hyde. A Roundelay. 1906. Color woodcut on paper.10.3 x 20.4 cm Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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