SAPPORO – A Japanese woman who sent dolls to then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1962 and decades later received a doll from his daughter in return died last week at 94, the woman’s nursing home said Wednesday.
Kennedy’s daughter and the current U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy expressed her condolences via Twitter on Tuesday over the death of Tsuyako Matsumoto, who lived in the city of Kitami in Hokkaido. The Kitami-based nursing home where she resided said she died on Sept. 29.
“So glad I had the chance to thank Matsumoto san for her gift of friendship years ago. Our sympathies to her family and those who cared for her,” Kennedy wrote.
More than 50 years ago, Matsumoto decided to send a set of traditional Japanese hina dolls to President Kennedy after writing to him one day and unexpectedly receiving, to her delight, a reply expressing gratitude.
Wanting to return the favor, the ambassador looked for the sender of the dolls, which she had played with as a little girl. On a visit to Sapporo in February last year, she asked for help from the Japanese media to locate the sender.
After finding the whereabouts of Matsumoto, the envoy sent the doll of a character from the popular American Girl Dolls series and a letter to the woman in March.
“Her name is Kit Kittredge, and she celebrates American culture in the year 1934, when you were a girl here in Japan. Like you, she is a creative spirit with big ideas,” Kennedy wrote.
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