It's a homecoming reception Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in honor of a restored Japanese friendship doll, Miss Kyoto-shi, originally gifted to the Museum 85 years ago. Only a few such dolls remain in their original locations today.
Guests will have the opportunity to view Miss Kyoto-shi in the Museum's Great Hall. A Hot Springs Village Japanese-American folk dancing troupe will perform in authentic dress. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola will welcome everyone. Alan Scott Pate, the foremost authority on antique Japanese dolls in the country, will speak about the history and significance of Japanese Friendship Dolls.
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 the 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.