Japanese houses are made from specific woods that are easily available in Japan. Upon inspection of The Japanese House, the carpenters found much rotten wood that needed to be replaced with specific Japanese wood. The Japanese House at BCM is a combination of old and new woods.
Machiya is a style of residential and commercial townhouse. A Kyo no Machiya is a unique form of machiya found only in Kyoto. In the Nishijin area, the silk-weaving district of Kyoto, the front part of the house is used for weaving or selling silk. The back part of the house is where the family lives. Machiya means “townhouse,” but they aren’t exactly similar to what Americans call a townhouse. Machiya always have a shop or some sort of commercial business in the front room.
The Japanese visitors view the small Japanese tea house and note that the tatami are arranged incorrectly. Upon hearing of the staff’s plan to broaden the Japan program, the Mayor offers to donate a full-scale Japanese house to the Museum. The next day he and his delegation visit the newly chosen wharf location for Boston Children’s Museum’s new home, and plans percolate around how to represent Kyoto in Boston permanently.
During the late 1960s, the Museum was experimenting with creating immersive exhibition environments that would involve the visitor thoroughly. With good intentions, staff used the tea house as an all-purpose Japanese home for teaching about daily life, changing the name of the exhibit to The Japanese Home.
The Friendship Dolls were a project of Dr. Sidney Guliek and the US–Japan Friendship Commission to promote good will between the two countries. Each doll represents a city or a prefecture in Japan, and came equipped with her own passport and accessories. The dolls arrived by boat in San Francisco in late 1927, then took a tour of the United States, ending with a celebration in New York City before settling into their homes in each state in the country. Miss Kyoto came to Boston Children’s Museum and has been a star of the collection ever since.