Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Akai Kutsu - Red Shoes

Scottish Song By James Hogg

Akai Kutsu - Red Shoes is a Japanese nursery rhyme written in 1922 by Japanese poet Ujō Noguchi, sung to music composed by Nagayo Motoori.

The established theory is that the lyrics were written based on a true story. It is believed that a young girl from Fushimi, Shizuoka Prefecture named Iwasaki Kimi (July 15, 1902 - September 15, 1911), was the model for the girl wearing red shoes.

Kimi's mother, Kayo Iwasaki was raising her as a single mother, but eventually moved to Hokkaido and married Shirou Suzuki. When Kimi was 3 her parents joined a commoner's farm in Hokkaido that at the time was being watched as a part of the Socialist movement. However the farming life was harsh so using her father-in-law, Sano Yasuyoshi, as a medium Kayo entrusted Kimi's upbringing to a pair of married American missionaries by the name of Hewitt.

In time the Hewitt's decided to return home to America, but Kimi contracted Tuberculosis (incurable at the time) and they were unable to take her to America with them as a result. Instead they entrusted her to the orphanage at Toriikazu Church in Azabu, Tokyo and returned without her. Unable to meet her mother again, Kimi died at the orphanage at age 9. Kayo went her entire life thinking Kimi had gone to America with the Hewitts, not knowing that she had in fact died of TB at an orphanage in Tokyo.

In 1907, Ujou Noguchi, who was published as a socialist poet in 1903, became close to Suzuki Shirou, a co-worker at the newspaper he worked for in Sapporo, and his wife Kayo. He then heard the story of how Kimi had been taken to America by missionaries from Kayo. Having a new suckling child, the Suzuki's had become discouraged with the farming lifestyle. At this same time Kimi was at the orphanage in Tokyo, but Kayo was unaware of this. Later in 1921, Noguchi wrote "Akai Kutsu" based on the story and in 1922 it became a nursery rhyme using Motoori's composition.

In 1973 Kimi's half-sister, Sono (Shirou and Kayo's third daughter), wrote to the newspaper stating that "My sister is the girl from "Akai Kutsu". Upon seeing this a reporter for Hokkaido Television Broadcasting, Hiroshi Kikuchi, became interested and started investigating. After 5 years of fact gathering Kikuchi was able to confirm the story and in 1978 a documentary entitled "Document: The Girl in the Red Shoes" aired on HKB. After that Kikuchi released a non-fiction book titled "The Girl in The Red Shoes".

This book's account of the story became the established theory on the matter, although other theories differ considerably.

Related Scottish Country Dances

A Little Girl In Red Shoes

Akai Kutsu - Red Shoes By James Hogg

A young girl with red shoes
was taken away by a foreigner.

She rode on a ship from Yokohama pier
taken away by a foreigner

I imagine right now she has become blue-eyed
living in that foreigner's land.

Every time I see red shoes, I think of her
And every time I meet a foreigner, I think of her.

There is evidence that in the original manuscript the line read "Every time I see red shoes, I remember her" but this line was changed to end "I think of her".

Originally unreleased, a fifth stanza was discovered in notes released in 1978.

When she misses Japan where she was born
I imagine she stares at the blue sea
and asks the foreigner if she can go home

Akai Kutsu - Red Shoes Song Video

Akai Kutsu - Red Shoes Song - Information Video
Frimley Green
Statue - A Young Girl With Red Shoes - Shizuoka Prefecture

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Akai_Kutsu article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Baodad, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

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