Visitor InfoEvents & EducationExhibitionsCollectionsabout ushome
Museum of International Folk Art

Miss Yamaguchi
Torei Ningyo
(Doll of Gratitude)
Japanese Ambassador Doll Japan, c. 1927

Miss YamaguchiMiss Yamaguchi is a Japanese ambassador doll, one of 58 dolls sent to cities in the U.S. from the Japanese government in November 1927. These dolls were sent in response to gifts of some 700 American Friendship Dolls.

When president Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924, Japanese immigration to the U.S. was effectively stopped. In order to promote goodwill between the U.S. and Japan, Dr. Sidney Gulick, a former missionary who lived in Japan between 1888 and 1913 who tea set-Miss Yamaguchiunderstood the importance of dolls in Japanese culture, initiated a program to send American friendship dolls to Japan.

When Miss Yamaguchi arrived in the United States, her first home was Chicago, Illinois, in the Children's Museum at the Art Institute of Chicago. She has lived at the Museum of International Folk Art since Chicago native Florence Dibell Bartlett founded it in 1953.

accessories for M. YamaguchiThe Yoshitoku Doll Company in Tokyo, which made most of the Torei dolls, probably made Miss Yamaguchi. Her body is mostly wood, covered with a skin made of many layers of powdered shell, called gofun. Her eyes are glass, and she has real human hair. All the dolls are made to look like individuals, their costumes differ, as do their features styles. They wear underwear and socks, or tabi, which is unusual for Japanese dolls. They were sent with these special garments to ensure that they had everything they needed to fulfill their duties as ambassadors.