In 1927, Betty came all the way from America to Kamiyama Elementary. Twelve thousand "Blue-eyed Dolls" were delivered to Japan to strengthen friendship between Japanese and American children. Betty is one of 216 dolls given to Ehime Prefecture.
Betty arrived at Kamiyama Elementary School in April 1927 and was formally displayed the following year in March at the Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) Music Concert, a traditional event at the school. An entry in the school diary states, "Miss Betty Jane, Welcoming Music Concert."
Afterward, each year Betty was displayed for Hina Matsuri, but in 1941 war began between Japan and the U.S. The military issued an order to dispose of dolls like Betty throughout the country because they were from the enemy. Due to this order many dolls were destroyed by burning and other means.
However, the teachers at Kamiyama Elementary School discussed many times what to do about Betty, and they decided to hide her in the attic of the teachers' room. As a result, Betty survived the war. In all Japan only 300 dolls now remain of the 12,000 dolls sent in 1927. Five dolls, including Betty, remain in Ehime Prefecture.
After the war, Betty again was displayed for Hina Matsuri at Kamiyama Elementary. In 1989, a doll named Carol was given to the school as a symbol of friendship, peace, and goodwill by the grandson of Mr. Sidney Gulick, who in 1927 had originated the project to give the dolls. In 1993, another doll of friendship named Agnes was given to the school by a teacher's parents living in the U.S.
All the school children at Kamiyama Elementary learn Betty's history through general studies and at the Hina Matsuri Music Concert. The students also investigate Blue-eyed Dolls remaining at other schools in Ehime and other prefectures, and they are studying about the importance of international friendship.
Riho Inoue and Daisuke Hagimori, two sixth graders at the school, say: "We want to say 'thank you' to the teachers who left Betty for us. We always want to take good care of her."
This is a translation of an article published in the Ehime
Shimbun on April 14, 2003.
Special thanks to Masumi Miyoshi for providing this article.
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