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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yokohama “Hamoko.”



There is an especially unique treasure in the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys. And one that is especially necessary to mention at a time when Japan is buried in havoc.
The museum if filled with dolls but if I could sit down and have an afternoon tea with one, I would choose Miss Yokohama “Hamoko.” She is a Japanese Friendship doll, which all started in the late 1920’s to ease tension between America and Japan. This was the time after the immigration act of 1924, which allowed no East Asians to immigrate to the United States.
An American missionary had the idea to send thousands of blue-eyed dolls to Japan, to bring good will back to the countries. Japan was so inspired that they returned 58 dolls in silk kimonos.
Each sate received a doll as a gift, and Denver received Miss Yokohama, created in Yokohama Japan. The doll was donated to the Denver Museum Public Library and was set out for children came to play with. She was tucked away at some point, and rediscovered and brought to the museum in ’96.
From pictures you notice a crack on her face, which was repaired once when the doll was sent back to Japan in the 80’s, but the crack has resurfaced because of our dry climate. This doll may not be in the most pristine condition but does not make it any less of a treasure.
Out of the 58 dolls, the locations of 45 are known. During WWII when the U.S. and Japan were in battle, many of the dolls were tucked away. The search for the remaining dolls is on…each a treasure as a great as the next one.

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