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Sunday, Aug. 19, 2001

In memoriam

Staff writer

"Kimi-chan" by Itaru Sasaki, the red granite and bronze statue of a little girl standing in leafy Patiojuban, commemorates a real girl named Kimi Iwasaki.

"Kimi-chan," by Itaru Sasaki, and two of her friends

Her sad story -- the inspiration for a famous Japanese song, "Akai Kutsu (Red Shoes)" -- is that, wearing her favorite red shoes, she was given up by her mother for adoption by an American misssionary. Before she could travel to America, though, she contracted tuberculosis and died in an orphanage in Azabu in 1911 at age 9.

Now, with a charity box by her side, Kimi-chan is a symbol of underprivileged children. In the 12 years the statue has stood in Azabu, 6,950,000 yen has been dropped into the box, of which 6,250,000 yen has been donated to UNICEF and 700,000 yen to the Hanshin Earthquake Charity.

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