This Saturday, March 21 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the library’s very own Miss Iwate will be on display at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Every year the Japan-America Society of Alabama hosts a Cherry Blossom Festival (also called a Sakura Festival) at the Gardens. This year, part of the festivities includes a display in the Garden Center of Japanese artifacts. Miss Iwate will be among them. She was given to the people of Alabama from the Iwate Prefecture, Japan in 1928 as part of a doll exchange designed to improve relations between the two countries. Over 17,000 American dolls (also known as Blue-eyed Dolls) were given to the children of Japan. In return, 58 Friendship Dolls (representing the prefectures and major cities of Japan) were given to the United States. The dolls were crafted by master doll makers and each one is a work of art. Each doll was equipped with her own furniture, shoes, and other accessories. Over the years, several of the dolls have gone missing or are believed to be in private collections. Miss Iwate, however, has always called the Birmingham Public Library home. From her exquisitely detailed kimono to her delicate china tea set, Miss Iwate is indeed a treasure.
For more information about Miss Iwate and her belongings, visit our online exhibit. Due to her age and fragile condition, she is seldom on display. Through a special arrangement with the Library at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, we are happy to offer this rare chance for people to see Miss Iwate and hear her story.