Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Join Us in Celebrating the Return of Miss Iwate, March 19-20

Miss Iwate, the Birmingham Public Library's Japanese Friendship Doll, is returning home with a public celebration weekend on March 19-20, 2016, after getting a makeover in Japan.

The BPL is inviting the public to help welcome her back to the city she has called home for nearly 90 years. Miss Iwate originally came to Birmingham in July 1928 as part of a goodwill doll exchange between the children of Japan and the United States.

Miss Iwate will return to Birmingham on Monday, March 14, ready to resume her mission as an ambassador of friendship with renewed enthusiasm. BPL will hold two big "welcome home" celebrations for her. The first will be on Saturday, March 19, at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens as part of the Japan America Society of Alabama's annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The second will be on Sunday, March 20, at the Central Library.

All events are free; however "An Evening with Alan Pate and Miss Iwate" requires reservations. For more information, visit or call 205-226-3670.

Mr. Masaru Aoki of the Yoshitoku Doll Company came to Birmingham and took her back to Japan in September 2015, and her restoration was completed by Yoshitoku in October. From December 24, 2015, to March 6, 2016, she was on display at the Iwate Prefectural Museum in Morioka, Iwate, where she was accompanied by one of the “blue-eyed dolls” of the 1927 doll exchange. This doll belongs to an elementary school in Rikuzentakata which was hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. The doll was thought to have been lost in the tsunami; however, she was later recovered.

Two "satogaeri" (homecoming) celebrations were held for her on February 2 and February 22, 2016, at two elementary schools in Iwate Prefecture, which own the original American dolls from the 1927 doll exchange.

"I just got back recently from Japan where I attended the February 22 celebration, said Haruyo Miyagawa, head of the Arts, Literature and Sports Department at the Central Library. “It was so lovely to see Miss Iwate side by side with a blue-eyed doll for the very first time. And the students were very engaged by this story of how children played a role in trying to bring about peace in a turbulent world."

Below are details on the Miss Iwate homecoming celebration events:

Cherry Blossom Festival, Saturday, March 19, Garden Center, Birmingham Botanical Gardens (BBG)
1:30 to 3:00 p.m., Linn-Henley Lecture Hall, Garden Center, BBG
A “welcome home” reception will be held for Miss Iwate. Students from Phillips Academy, a K-8 school in the Birmingham City Schools system, will recite original haiku. Students from Highlands Day School, a private school in Birmingham, will sing Japanese children’s songs. Koji and Laurie Arizumi, a husband/wife duo, will perform Japanese music.

Tea Party and Alan Pate Lecture, Sunday, March 20, Arrington Auditorium, Birmingham Public Library
2:30-3:30 p.m.
A tea party will be held in the Arrigton Auditorium in the Linn-Henley Research Library. The local chapter of the Urasenke School of Tea will perform a tea ceremony. Children and adults are encouraged to bring their favorite dolls, action figures, etc. Light refreshments will be served.
4:00-5:30 p.m.
Alan Scott Pate of Tampa, Florida, a noted expert on the Friendship Dolls, will discuss their history and significance. Japanese –style refreshments will be served. The event is free, but please register to attend.

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