A Japanese Friendship Doll on the conservator’s table.

A Japanese Friendship Doll on the conservator’s table.


Recently, I visited my daughter, Betsy, in Cincinnati, Ohio. She and I are both artists and she works as an art conservator. She restores artifacts at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM).

While with Betsy and her daughter, I discovered a book they had picked to read. The title was, The Friendship Doll. It was written by Kirby Lawson. I was fascinated. I had to read it!

What was so wonderful about finding that book is the day after my Betsy and her daughter read the book, Betsy found a Japanese Friendship Doll on her conservator’s table at work!

She called me and I made the cross-town trip to visit the CAM and see the actual doll.

It was just beautiful with human hair and life-size qualities. I didn’t dare touch the precious creation, but I really wanted to hold her, myself.

I read the book and there came my next delight. The story told of how, in 1927, the United States sent twelve thousand blue-eyed baby dolls to Japan as a good will gesture. In return, Japan sent fifty-eight dolls made by their master doll makers. Each doll represented a Japanese province. Their size was that of a five year old child, each dressed and outfitted beautifully.

The book describes the effect the Japanese dolls had on the lives of several American children from 1927 until 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and we got involved in World War II.

The book covered the time period when my mom grew up. The stories in the book gave me a glimpse of time in Mom’s life that has been a blank to me.

The book is enchanting. It was a real treat to indulge my inner child!


Amy Karen (Nov. ‘12) adds, “I am ordering the book for my other adult girls, hoping to share the wonderful experience I had with the book and museum doll during my Cincinnati visit.”


  • caroline farney

    very nice, warm memories as I read about the doll. I get these feelings when I learn any little thing about my mother’s life. She died at age 39, when I was only 20 and I love to think about things she liked. Thank you

  • caroline farney

    Thanks for about the doll. It brought back memories of my mother’s life. She died at age 39, when I was 20 and I love to find out about things she she liked. Thanks for sharing the story.

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