US-Japan Friendship Dolls Then & How to Help Today


In a heart-moving gesture a few years after the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 in Japan, American children made 12,000 blue-eyed dolls and sent them to Japanese children. After that, 58 highly ornate, beautifully crafted Japanese “Friendship Dolls” were sent by Japanese children to American children.
Today, this may all sound corny — but In the mid-1980s, I organized in Los Angeles a display of some of these Japanese Friendship dolls and hosted ‘remembrances’ of the exchange by Americans and Japanese who had been involved in the making of the dolls and exchange when they were very young. The comments from these octogenarians was so moving; they remembered in vivid, rich detail what these dolls meant at the time. The dolls were symbols and keepsakes with enormous emotion stored in them.
I don’t know what can help Japan now. As I’ve written and shared on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show on CNN, I think that this is a time when Japan and its current leader, Naoto Kan, or some as yet undiscovered inspiring visionary, need to figure out a pathway to reinvention. If not, Japan will sink after the triple blow tragedies that have slammed it so hard.
But Japan does need help — and the Japan Society of New York has set up a Japan Earthquake relief fund to assist those in need.
The well-known expert on Japan’s political world, Gerry Curtis of Columbia University, sent me this information today. I hope some of you who feel so inclined will help out.

Gerald Curtis has sent you a message.
Date: 3/17/2011
Subject: earthquake relief fund

The Japan Society has created a disaster relief fund to aid victims of the massive earthquake and tsunamis that struck northeastern Japan. Your tax-deductible contributions will go to organizations that directly help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
Please contribute to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund by sending your check to:
Japan Society
333 East 47th Street
New York, New York 10017
Attn: Japan Earthquake Relief Fund
Please make your checks payable to Japan Society and indicate “Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” on the check.
You can also make an online donation from Japan Society’s website.
For additional information, please email

More later.
— Steve Clemons


23 comments on “US-Japan Friendship Dolls Then & How to Help Today

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *