(Hokkaido Shimbun: February 6, 2015, Evening edition – p. 15)
Tsuyako Matsumoto, a 92-year-old woman living in Kitami, Hokkaido, has been identified as the person who sent a gift of Japanese hina dolls to former President John F. Kennedy, the Hokkaido Shimbun learned on Feb. 6..
Matsumoto was touched to learn that U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy had been looking for the person who sent the gift to her father in 1962. “I never dreamed such a day would come,” Matsumoto said. “I am so grateful.”
She now lives in a nursing home in Kitami.
She said that she had purchased a set of hina dolls at a store in central Kitami and asked the store clerk to send it to the White House. Back then, she had been repeatedly sending letters to the leaders of various countries, including the U.S. She said she does not remember exactly what motivated her [to send the gifts and letters].
She later received a reply from the U.S. together with a medal depicting a portrait of President Kennedy, and has since treasured them. She recalled sending another doll after that as a gesture of thanks, hoping it would help him better understand Japanese culture.
When Matsumoto learned that the Ambassador had been very fond of the dolls as a child and developed an interest in Japan as a result, and that the dolls have been kept intact until now, she reportedly shed tears of joy and said: “It was my pleasure to send the dolls. I’m so happy.”
She said she did not know that the daughter of the former U.S. president was currently serving as U.S. Ambassador to Japan. “Tokyo is very far away, but I would like to meet her if possible.”
It had been reported that the Ambassador was seeking a Kitami resident named “Tsuyako Matsumoto” to thank her for the gift sent to her father.