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Meet Kimi-chan, a little girl in red shoes – Statue in the heart of Azabu-Juban

Akai kutsu, or ‘Red shoes’, is a Japanese nursery rhyme which is almost 100 years old. It tells us a sad story about a little girl in red shoes. In the rhyme, she was taken abroad by a foreigner. In reality, everything was probably much more complicated and sad.Kimi-chan Azabu-Juban

The prototype of the ‘Akai kutsu girl’ was called Kimi Iwasaki, so the statue in Azabu-Juban dedicated to her is called Kimi-chan. It was erected in 1989, almost a decade earlier than Azabu-Juban Station was opened.Kimi-chan Azabu-JubanKimi-chan had contracted tuberculosis and stayed in an orphanage. Now there is a shrine called Jubaninari-jinja instead of that orphanage. She never actually left Japan, although was adopted by an American missionary family.Kimi-chan Azabu-JubanThe ship in the rhyme sailed from Yokohama pier, therefore there are statues of her in the city park, Yamashita koen, and in Yokohama Station.

There are also statues of this girl in Hokkaido, Aomori, and Shizuoka Prefectures. It is said that Kimi was born in Fushimi, Shizuoka, and then her mother got married and they moved to a farm in Hokkaido.

Information

Statue of Kimi-chan
Address: Tokyo, Minato, Azabu-Juban 2-3-10
Access: a short walk from Azabu-Juban station, Exit 4
Inquiries (Azabujuban Shopping District Promotion Union): 03-3451-5812
Distance from airport: About 16 km from Haneda Airport, 72 km from Narita Airport.

 

Article by Olga Kaneda

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