Iwako was born in Kitakata, Fukushima, to a merchant family of the Aizu domain. She lost her parents at age 9, and was looked after by grandparents. She was educated by an uncle-in-law, who was a doctor.
After becoming widowed at a young age, she devoted her life to helping poor and orphans, took the lead in building hospitals, and contributed to improving the living conditions of Fukushima and Tokyo's average citizens. In 1893, she founded the Fukushima Aiikuen Orphanage, which is still in operation today. She established Kitakata's Saisei Hospital and an institution devoted to midwifery research.
Iwako was the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor with Blue Ribbon, which is awarded by the Japanese government to outstanding individuals in the field of social welfare or public service. A bronze statue in her honor was dedicated in Shōkōen Park, Asakusa in April 1901.
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- Maeda, Ai (2004). Text and the City: Essays on Japanese Modernity. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 159. ISBN 9780822333463.
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- MATCHA. "The Hidden Treasures of Sensōji Temple: Eccentric Statues?!". MATCHA - JAPAN TRAVEL WEB MAGAZINE. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
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- 1932-1987., Maeda, Ai (2004). Text and the city : essays on Japanese modernity. Fujii, James A., 前田, 愛(1932-1987). Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. ISBN 0822333341. OCLC 53231744.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)