As a way to ease cultural tensions in the 1920s, Japanese Viscount Eiichi Shi-busawa initiated a program to send 58 Japanese Friendship Dolls to American museums and libraries. The best doll makers in Japan were commissioned to produce 58 friendship dolls. Each doll was 32-33 inches tall and they were dressed in beautiful silk kimonos. Each doll also came with unique accessories. These Japanese friendship dolls represented specific Japanese prefectures, cities or regions. The dolls were sent to libraries and museums throughout the United States.
Miss Kyoto-shi arrived at the Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities (now the Museum of Discovery) shortly after the museum was founded in 1927. Over the years, a few dolls were lost, but Miss Kyoto-shi remained in Little Rock although she left the museum briefly for an unexplained visit to a private home for several years. In 2011 she was returned to Japan to be restored. The grandson of the original artist lineage that created her agreed to restore her completely free of charge.
The Museum of Discovery has scheduled a reception welcoming Miss Kyoto-shi home.
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