Little Girl With Red Shoes statue

Girl With Red Shoes, public art, Yokohama

Public Art: Little Girl With Red Shoes statue

Also Known As : Girl With the Red Shoes

Sculptor: © Masamichi Yamamoto

Description: Bronze staue oif a little girl looking out over Yokohama harbour.

Date Unveiled: The Girl with the Red Shoes was unveiled on the 11th November, 1979.

Location:  The Little Girl With Red Shoes sculpture can be found at Yamashita Park, 279 Yamashitacho, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0023, Japan.

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


This children's song, set in the port of Yokohama and first performed in 1921, has been memorialized with this statue. The statue has been placed here in the hope that it will become a cherished landmark for its countless visitors.

Little Girl With Red Shoes, public art, YokohamaBackground 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, Yokohama Station, Red Shoes copy                                        
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)

Trivia: A  “The Girl in Red Shoes” statue was presented as a gift to the Port of San Diego and the citizens of San Diego to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Yokohama, Japan. In 1960 the port city of San Diego presented Yokohama with a copy of their famous fountain " Guardian of the Water".

There is another statue of the little girl with the red shoes at Kawagoe Matsuri kaikan.





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