Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday that Tsuyako Matsumoto, a Japanese woman who is now 92, sent the 15 dolls to President John F. Kennedy.
Matsumoto, a former grocer who now lives in a nursing home, told Kyodo that when she heard Kennedy was looking for her, “My mind went blank. I’m simply happy.”
The Kennedy family received the dolls after Matsumoto sent a note to the president in 1962, according to the news agency’s report:
One day, she wrote to President Kennedy and in return received a letter from a presidential secretary thanking her for writing.“I never thought I would get a reply,” Matsumoto said.The letter was in English, so she asked a doctor she knew at a hospital to translate it.Moved by the letter, she went to a department store in the city and spent money she had earned from knitting and other odd jobs on a full set of 15 hina dolls, including a couple representing an Emperor and Empress.“I thought it would be a surprise because it was pricey and rare,” she said of the gift.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, hina dolls “are traditionally displayed by Japanese families” around the Girls’ Day festival every March 3 “to pray for the health and happiness of their daughters.”
Matsumoto, who kept the correspondence from Washington, told the news agency she was “grateful” that Caroline Kennedy enjoyed the dolls as a child and has now included the set in the Tokyo display. She said she’d like to meet the ambassador.
A reporter for Kyodo asked what she would say during the interaction.
“That’s a secret,” Matsumoto replied.