Monday, May 23, 2016

Miss Iwate, BPL's Japanese Friendship Doll, Gets Visit from the Japan External Trade Organization

(l-r): Motoi Hotta, director of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO);
Angela Fisher Hall, director of the Birmingham Public Library;
Mary Beth Newbill, head of the Southern History Department/Central Library;
and Norikazu Mori, chief executive director of JETRO

Miss Iwate, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)'s Japanese Friendship Doll, received a visit on May 19, 2016, from representatives of her home country. Motoi Hotta, director of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and Norikazu Mori, chief executive director of JETRO, got an up close and personal view of Miss Iwate inside the Linn-Henley Building at the Central Library.

Miss Iwate, who originally came to BPL in July 1928 as part of a Japan-United States goodwill doll exchange, returned to Japan in September 2015 for a “makeover” carried out by the Yoshitoku Doll Company. When her restoration was completed, Miss Iwate was on display from December 24, 2015, to March 6, 2016, at the Iwate Prefectural Museum in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. She returned to Birmingham in mid-March 2016 ready to continue her role as ambassador of peace and friendship with renewed enthusiasm. A “welcome home” celebration was held for her at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival sponsored by the Japan American Society of Alabama at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

The Birmingham Public Library is very proud of its role as the caretaker of Miss Iwate, said Angela Fisher Hall, director of the 19-branch system.

“We often share the story of Miss Iwate with visitors to the library who have an interest in our special collections, and many visitors ask for her by name,” Hall said. “Before our city had its wonderful Birmingham Museum of Art, our library was the hub for culture and learning. It’s good to have Miss Iwate here at the library to serve as a goodwill ambassador.”

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