Press Release - Detail
For immediate release Friday, March 11, 2016
CONTACT: Roy L. Williams, Director of Public Relations    
Birmingham Public Library                                               
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 568-0067                                                        
Birmingham Public Library celebrates return of Friendship Doll, Miss Iwate, March 19-20
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—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, 2100 Park Place, in downtown Birmingham.

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 Dec. 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 Feb. 2 and Feb. 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 Feb. 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:

Saturday, March 19, 1:30-3 p.m. - Cherry Blossom Festival, Garden Center, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Linn-Henley Lecture Hall, Garden Center 
A “welcome home” reception will be held for Miss Iwate. 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.

Sunday, March 20, 2:30-5:30 p.m., Arrington Auditorium, Linn-Henley Building, The Central Library, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203
 2:30-3:30 p.m. – Japanese Tea Party 
A tea party will be held in the Arrington 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.

4-5:30 p.m. – Alan Pate Lecture
Alan Scott Pate of Tampa, Florida, a noted expert on Japanese Friendship Dolls, will discuss their history and significance. Japanese –style refreshments will be served. The event is free, but please register in advance at
For additional information about the programs and services of the Birmingham Public Library, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BPL. The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with 19 locations and serving the community for 129 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast.
Page Last Modified: 6/15/2021 9:51 AM