Michiko Takaoka
Michiko Takaoka with children to celebrate Hina Matsuri (Dolls' Festival) at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute in Spokane, Washington
Michiko Takaoka is former director of the Japanese Cultural Center at the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute in Spokane, Washington. In 1992, she started the Friendship Doll Program, which sends Japanese dolls to children in American schools. Supported by Japanese citizens through Mukogawa Women's University in Nishinomiya, Japan, Japanese Friendship Dolls are presented to schools, educational programs, and cultural organizations throughout the U.S.  In March 2004, she was appointed as a "Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange" by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs. She retired from Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute in 2007 and returned to Japan.

She also has personally met all of the 44 original Japanese Friendship Dolls that have been located as of April 2003. In total, 58 Friendship Dolls were sent to the US from Japan in 1927. Described in one newspaper article as "an expert on the dolls," she has traveled throughout the U.S. to help identify and catalog the dolls and arrange for their conservation.

In March 2004, Michiko Takaoka's book in Japanese entitled Ningyo Taishi (Doll Ambassadors) was published by Nikkei BP. She tells about the history of the 58 beautiful Japanese dolls that came to the US in 1927. She also describes her exciting visits around the country to search for and confirm the identification of the Japanese Friendship Dolls. The book can be purchased from Amazon Japan (in Japanese only). 


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