Copy of Little Girl With Red Shoes

Yokohama, public art, red shoes

Public Art : Little Girl With Red Shoes (copy)

Sculptor: © Masamichi Yamamoto

Description: This is much smaller version of the well known statue of Little Girl With Red Shoes which is located in Yamashita Park. The 26.5-cm-tall iron sculpture of the little girl sitting on a 110-cm-tall base is a popular meeting pointat the train station.

Date Unveiled: The replica of the Little Girl With Red Shoes was donated by a civic group in 1982 but was later removed in 1998 while the  JR Yokohama Station underwent renovations. Twelve years later, it was once again unveiled in December, 2010.

Location: You have to look very hard to find this tiny copy of the statue Little Girl With Red Shoes which is located in Yokohama Station, Yokohama, Japan.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Keiko Hamada for kindly providing the photos.

Background to the girl with the red shoes: Yes, the little girl with the red shoes really did exist. The little girl was Kimi Iwasaki who, at the age of three, was adopted by an American missionary couple called the Hewetts. Kimi wasn't actually an orphan, her mother, Kayo, being very poor gave her daughter Kimi to the missionaries, believing she would have be better life being raised in America.

Unbeknown to Kayo her daughter never boarded the ship to America. Kimi had contracted Tuberculosis and was not allowed to travel with the Hewetts. Instead she was left at a Methodist church orphanage in Tokyo. Sadly, Kimi died there on 15th of September, 1911. She was 9 years old.

Meanwhile her mother Kayo had married a farmer and had moved with him to Hokkaido unaware of the fate of her child. Life for Kayo remained hard and her family suffered many tragic events in the years that followed. Kayo and her husband Shiro eventually moved to Sapporo where Shiro found a job working at a small newspaper. By chance a co worker at the newspaper named Ujō Noguchi heard the sad tale of Kayo giving up her first born to the American couple and wrote her a poem which he named “Akai Kutsu” (Red Shoes). The poem was later put to music by Japanese composer Nagayo Motōri. It became a very popular children's song known throughout Japan. Kayo would often sing the song written for her daughter and whisper “Ujō made that song for you, Kimi,”.

During her life Kayo never found out the tragic fate of her daughter but in 1973 a Hokkaido TV reporter Hiroshi Kikuchi uncovered the truth about Kimi Iwasaki.

In 1979 the first of many "Red Shoe" statues was erected in Yokohama. In 1989 a statue of Kimi was erected in Azabu-Jūban near where the orphange once stood. On the day that it was unveiled an unknown person left 40 yen at the statue's feet. This soon caught on and over the years millions of yen have been raised for UNESCO and other childcare charities.

The Song:

“Akai Kutsu” (Red Shoes)

A little girl nice in her pretty red shoes
Has gone far away, taken by a foreigner .

From the port of Yokohama, over the waves,
She has gone with him to his home.

I wonder if she is happy and has nice days.
I wonder if her eyes are blue like a foreigner’s.

I remember her when I see pretty red shoes.
I wonder how she is when I meet a foreigner.

List of Little Girl With Red Shoes statues:

Yokohama, Yamashita Park "Kimi-chan" (1979)
Shizuoka Prefecture Nihondaira "Mother and Child statue" ( 1986 )
Tokyo Azabu-Juban "Kimi-chan" ( 1989 )
Hokkaido Rusutsu village "mother" ( 1991 )
Hokkaido Otaru "mother and child" ( 2007 )
Hokkaido Hakodate "Kimi-chan" ( 2009 )
Aomori Prefecture town Ajigasawa "Statue of The Red Shoes" ( 2010 )

Port of San Diego (USA) "Kimi" (June 27th, 2010)

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