Miss Yokohama is Colorado's Japanese Friendship Doll. This artisan doll arrived in San Francisco in 1927 with 57 of her sisters. Following their reception in San Francisco, the dolls toured the US and then found homes in appropriate institutions in each state. She is one of only 7 dolls created by the Ohki Heizo (Maruhei) Doll Company in Kyoto. She is 81cm tall and is constructed of wood, gofun (a mixture of powdered oyster shells and glue coating the wood to creates a skin-like sheen and texture), human hair, glass eyes. She wears a yuzen dyed kimono with furosode sleeves.
People of Japanese descent have been part of Colorado History since the 1880s. Colorado boasted a thriving population of people of Japanese descent prior to WWII, was the location of a WWII internment camp, served as a resettlement center for exiles from the West Coast, housed a major Japanese-language school and an independent ethnic press during the war. Miss Yokohama is a physical representation of the hope of good faith that led to eventual acceptance of Colorado’s Japanese population and the continued hope that Colorado continue to be an accepting community for immigrants and refugees from around the world.
Although there were originally 58 dolls, Miss Yokohama is one of a few that remain good condition and in the public trust. They represent a fascinating piece of diplomatic history between Japan and the US. In the 1920s, acting in the belief that better understanding between the people of the US and Japan would lead to an easing of the tensions caused by the US’s Asian Exclusion Act, a former missionary to Japan organized groups across America to collect “blue-eyed” dolls. In response, the Japanese sent 58 dolls representing the imperial household, six cities, each prefecture and territories of Japan.
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys
830 Kipling Street
Lakewood, CO 80215