U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy on Thursday thanked by letter an elderly woman who decades ago sent a set of traditional “hina” dolls to her father, President John F. Kennedy.
The donor, former grocer Tsuyako Matsumoto, 92, now lives in a nursing home in Kitami, Hokkaido Prefecture.
“I am overjoyed to be able to write and thank you for the set of the Hina dolls that you sent to my father so many years ago,” Kennedy wrote.
“Your generosity so many years ago changed my life and shows that extending friendship is one of the most important ways of building understanding between cultures and people.”
The letter was delivered to Matsumoto by JoEllen Gorg, principal officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo.
Matsumoto sent the dolls to President John F. Kennedy at the White House in 1962. She said she was inspired to do it after writing to President Kennedy one day and receiving in return a letter of gratitude from a presidential secretary.
As a girl, the ambassador reportedly played with the dolls and currently has them on display at her residence in Tokyo. Hina dolls are typically displayed in Japanese homes to mark Girls’ Day on March 3.
“Thank you for this gift and for all the wonderful things that have come from these little dolls,” Kennedy wrote.
Kennedy asked for help from the news media in tracing the donor during a visit to Sapporo earlier this month.