映画『Daddy Long Legs 〜あしながおじさん〜

Uganda Version

Tohoku Version

About a century ago, the novel Daddy-Long-Legs came out in the United States. A Japanese person inspired by the book collected 100 billion yen in donations over 50 years, and has continued to provide educational support for 100,000 orphaned children. That man, now over 80 years old, has targeted poverty-stricken Africa as "the last big job of his life". He believes that motivated young Africans can study at universities in developed countries and if they eventually return to their home country and participate in nation-building, such contributions will surely lead to the eradication of poverty. But to accomplish that, worldwide support is needed. So he came up with a stunning PR strategy-to persuade the great theatre director of the musical, Les Miserables, to hold a Broadway concert in New York. Uganda's AIDS orphans, the Great East Japan Earthquake tsunami orphans, the American college chorus that became a model for the novel-all those who appeared in the performance, were amateurs. However, they received a standing ovation at the end of the deeply moving performance. This is a story of the four years in which the characters learned what was important in life and grew enormously.

directed by Shinji Shinoda Documentary film
映画『Daddy Long Legs 〜あしながおじさん〜
John Caird Anitah Pius Sharon Maria Kusaka Kento Ito Christine Howlett Miranda Reese and Samantha Smith Tamai Yoshiomi STORY TRAILER
You are not alone. When you help a child who feels lonely, you might be helping to change the world.
Action X Orphans X Entertainment All amateurs in leading roles and a topnotch producer behind the camera

A flower's seed born a century ago

The novel Daddy-Long-Legs (1912) was born in America. In the novel a girl named Judy who had lived in an orphanage caught the eye of a wealthy man and they made a contract. He would financially support her for the college education and in return she would write a monthly letter to him. This completely changed Judy's life. Though she had lost her parents, she discovered the joy of life for the first time through education and became hopeful about the future. This is truly a story of Cinderella.

Daddy-Long-Legs is the nickname Judy gave to the wealthy man. And the novel Daddy-Long-Legs took the form of her letters to him. When the novel was released, it was an international blockbuster, but now it seems it has become less-known and forgotten in its homeland of America.

The author is a young woman writer, Jean Webster. In those days, when women could usually not attend college, she attended the prestigious Vassar College, the first college to open its doors to women. Student life there became a model for the novel. Webster herself lost her father to suicide and conducted charity work for orphans.

And then, the seed of Daddy-Long-Legs landed in Japan. The essence was inherited in NGO Ashinaga (long-legged). Under the name of Ashinaga (long-legged) Movement, this NGO has been collecting goodwill donation and extending its activities to support orphaned children of car accidents, by suicide, and of natural disasters. So far more than 100,000 children got support of their education from this NGO. It is not exaggeration to say that the founder Yoshiomi Tamai is a modern version of Daddy-Long-Legs.

Amateur acting troupe with a top director

Since 2001, the Ashinaga NGO has been active in the Republic of Uganda, operating a private school named "Rainbow House" on the outskirts of the capital city of Kampara. This school is for AIDS orphans who cannot attend public schools due to extreme poverty.

Soon after, Japanese orphans followed. They themselves are survivors of a tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and lost their beloved family members in the disaster.

Their circumstances are woven in and become the subplot of the work. Last are the affluent students in the choir of Vassar College, the alma mater of the author, Jean Webster.

We called it a music concert, but the reality was that lead roles were all amateurs.

It was John Caird, the British stage director, who brought everyone together and turned their performances into an amazing stage. Mr. Caird was awarded the Tony Award twice for Les Miserables and others, and Tamai got to know him through the direction of the musical " Daddy-Long- Legs"

Professor Christine Howlett, choral director at Vassar College, was responsible for vocal training; a loving teacher just like Julie Andrews in the movie, The Sound of Music, her deep ties with the kids makes the story more compelling.



Narration is given from the original heroine's viewpoint.

The orphan heroine of the novel, Judy, doesn't know what a family is from the time she's born. After spending a heavy, painful childhood in an orphanage, she acquires the joy and hope of life by receiving higher education through an accidental encounter with Daddy-Long-Legs. The story progresses from the perspective of Judy, who becomes like the orphans' Big Sis.

The English narrator is young Ugandan actress Esther Nakamya. She herself lost her father and lived in abject poverty when she was a child. She had to work desperately to feed her family from her very young age. She is just like a big sister of children now attending Rainbow House. Her own past is somehow overlapping with the film, and she made a great contribution with such loving and caring narration.

The Japanese narrator is actress Misako Konno. She has been a supporter of the Ashinaga Movement for 25 years. She gently encouraged the children, watching over them, just as a mother already in heaven would a beloved child.


The main axis of the story

The United Nations has designated the 49 countries situated in Sub-Saharan- Africa, the area south of the Sahara, as the world's poorest region. AIDS is still prevalent in Africa. Tamai believes that education is the best weapon against poverty and made his resolve to start the "Ashinaga Global Movement" to plant and cultivate the seed of Daddy-Long-Legs, this time in Africa. This is an extraordinary initiative to find potential donors and extend support to orphaned children trapped in despair.

We want them stand on their own feet today and get energy for tomorrow. Speak in your own words about your anger, wish and dream. Sing. Dance. Take a chance. When you express your thoughts and have yourself understood well, you can be liberated from what you are tied up to. And then you can break the mold and make a new start for tomorrow.

Why don't we do a concert to show this idea? We may be able to appeal media around the world and interest many people as well. Tamai came up with this idea and developed it into a plan. He thought, "The higher we aim, the better. OK, let them perform on the stage of Broadway in NY." Tamai wanted the world to know children's wishes, worries and struggles. Engagement of a legendary British stage director accelerated the plan at a stretch.

Children from Africa and Tohoku region of Japan, who had been supported by Ashinaga, intensively practiced singing, dancing, and drumming and finally, they appeared on the stage of Broadway in New York, which no one had imagined. The four-year trajectory of their growth and subsequent dramatic changes became the pillar of the film.

Theme song is " Simple Gifts"

We chose " Simple Gifts" as our theme song. This is a traditional hymn of the American Shakers'.

So, what does this title "Simple Gifts" mean?

"I have noticed just ordinary lives with family is more important than anything else" said many affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and guardians of Ugandan children alike.

They say, "Health of all family members. Accessible water. Daily food. Peace. Realizing these things and being grateful for it. All of them are gifts from God."

And "Simple Gifts" has another important message.

I was born for the sake of what ? What is my real role in this world ? Everybody wants to know the answer, keeping on struggling to find one.

The lyrics of the hymn say that the true pleasure of life is to find yourself in the place just right.

I am not alone in sorrow. Children, who played leading roles in the performance were able to be aware of something important by caring someone else. Students from Vassar College went through the same experiences.

Going forward to their goal, Ashinaga performers will move on to the next stage of their life, assured about their respective "simple gift".

Many thoughts and desires came together to bring about the project's completion

I have lived in the television world for many years and have developed a habit of looking objectively on phenomena and subjects of photo shoots. Yet, why does my heart still shake whenever I watch this film ? Perhaps it is because we empathize with the characters' thoughts and wonder what our own "simple gifts" might be?

This is not just a tedious documentary film. It is a story about how children in total despair, by finding a big purpose, also find hope in life and new dreams-it is the very essence of the novel Daddy-Long-Legs itself.

This is about a social movement developed tenaciously by a Japanese man with an Ashinaga seed as well as a mother killed in a traffic accident. Finally, the movement has extended to providing educational support to African orphans. The audience will be overwhelmed by the selfless activity and power of a Japanese man propelled by the principle that "education is everything" for over half a century.

When honest simplicity reaches such proportions, supporters appear one after another. John Caird is one of them.

In an era when images are mass produced and easily consumed, resorting to the medium of documentary indicates my strong belief in the power of images. This is a Japanese documentary film but it has both Japanese version and English version. This is because I thought we could have more supporters through broadcasting home and abroad as well as on the internet, reaching as many audiences as possible.

If this work triggers public interest in young Africans, and then fosters a budding desire to support them, I will be very happy.

This off-the-wall project came true thanks to Ashinaga well-wishers who, taking a fancy to Yoshiomi Tamai's "think big, talk HUGE" approach, joined forces globally. That factor was also an immense encouragement for this production.

Shinji Shinoda (director)

You are not alone in sorrow.
Simple gifts are God’s supreme gifts.
Education is Everything

John Caird


Miranda Reese and Samantha Smith

Japanese version narrator Misako Konno  |  actress

Pius  |  Born 19 March 2003

Mitsuaki Sato

author of the novel Daddy-Long-Legs Jean Webster  (1876-1916)

Music Jusqu'à Grand-Père: Hiroaki Takai & Makoto Hirose | composition / performance

Anitah  |  Born 1 July 2003


Yoshiomi Tamai

Music Yuriko Nakamura  |  composer / pianist

Sharon  |  Born 29 March 2001

Christine Howlett

English version narrator Esther Nakamya  |  Ugandan actress

Director Shinji Shinoda

Caird is a director who flies around the world working multiple projects at all times, such as theatre, musicals, and opera. He has directed more than 30 classics and new works. He received one of the greatest theatre awards, the Tony Award, for Best Direction of a Musical for Les Miserables and Nicholas Nickleby. A Canadian-born master director residing in the U.K., he has won numerous other awards globally. Meanwhile, for about 20 years he has supported girls living in Uganda as refugees of the Rwandan civil war. He says, "Tamai is doing large scale support projects, and I have also initiated some assistance to Rwandan refugees. Our good ties are quite natural." He readily agreed that Tamai's proposal was a revelation from above, and worked as a volunteer artistic director for the concert.

The Great East Japan Earthquake hit the day before Maria's important junior high school graduation. Her family was scattered, and she could not contact them. A few days later, she was reunited with her mother, sister, and brother, but her father was caught in the tsunami. His body was found a month and a half later. All this happened the day before her birthday. In the video her father's colleague took from the hill, there was a clip of her father's car speeding toward the tsunami. Apparently he had headed home to his family. After the disaster, NGO Ashinaga participated in activities for those who had lost their family just as she had. What she won from the abyss of despair was an unexpected simple gift ....

They are two Vassar College students who studied with Christine. They were selected from an enormous pool of applicants in a campus recruitment drive for assistants for this unusual tri-national concert project by young people. Coming from an affluent background, they were horrified by the extreme poverty of AIDS orphans in Uganda. What was the "simple gift" they gained at the end of their participation? Learning that life can change in unexpected directions…

Konno has known Tamai for 25 years. He is an extremely skilled news promoter of the "Ashinaga Movement" for newspapers and TV. When he starts a new project, she has always been at the frontline for the media. At the street-side donation representing the Ashinaga Scholarship Society, the "P Walk" and on many other occasions, she has stood by Tamai and appealed for support together with him. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, , they toured the disaster area with the Tohoku Oen (stay strong Tohoku) production with Ashinaga, visiting the victims in Miyagi Yuriage district, in Iwate Rikuzentakata, and the many Fukushima victims who evacuated to Aizu Wakamatsu. In 1980, she played the heroine in NHK's popular TV drama To Weave a Rainbow. While continuing her theatrical profession, she was appointed goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 1998, and is also active in the field of international cooperation. In the autumn of 2010, she launched the ongoing series, "Drama Readings by Misako Konno".

In 2006, Pius' father died of AIDS when he was not yet born. Since his mother also died of AIDS when Pius was eight months old, he has no memory of his parents. As Pius was an only child, his aunt Annette took him in. Since then, he believed his aunt was his real mother. His family are devout Catholics, and faith fundamentally supports their life of poverty. Annette wishes him to become a priest. Through this Ashinaga experience, he said, "At first, I wondered how dance could be useful, but now I realized that everything has meaning." Since then, his grades are always at the top of the class. Preparing for his future dreams to come true, he is enjoying his studies every day.

Mitsuaki Sato is a leading composer and music instructor, who harbors the spirit of Tohoku people deep inside his music activities. He is widely acknowledged for producing music and stage performances that would communicate the soul of Tohoku people. In this project he composed music for Team Japan consisting of children from the affected area of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The music infused with the message of Tohoku people deeply touched the heart of the audience. He has instructed and composed musical pieces for more than 200 groups in the genre of Japanese drum ensemble.

A novelist born in New York State, U.S.A., Webster was born and raised in a well-established family near Vassar College. In 1897, before colleges opened their doors to women, she entered Vassar. In 1891, her father committed suicide. Not having a father was a great impediment, but as her mother taught her the importance of human rights and the spirit of social contribution, she adopted those values and strove hard to live by them. At age 36, she wrote Daddy-Long-Legs, based on her college experiences and with the kids at orphanages. A best-seller, the novel was translated into many languages around the world. She married in 1915 and bore a girl the following year, but two days later she died from puerperal fever. Her short life ended at the age of 39.

This movie is full of human love, full of the splendor and hope for the connection between people crossing borders. We were proud to be in charge of sound generator production for this movie. It also became an opportunity to look back on our own way of living. Thank you, Daddy-Long-Legs!

PROFILE ● Guitar and violin duo. They're known for their gypsy swing jazz, tango, Spanish, Latin, classical and Japanese sounds. They are active in various fields such as TV, commercials, songs for drama, news and documentary theme songs. Their Daiwa Sakura Aid concert, a banner for cherry blossom conservation and Japanese culture preservation, is also underway in Japan.

Anitah's father died of AIDS when she was two weeks old. She has no memory of living with him. Her mother worked as a hairstylist and always plaited her hair in a pretty way when she was feeling well. However, when Anitah was 10 years old, her mother, the only family she had, also died of AIDS. Her father's house was left to her, but after the funeral, her relatives stripped it. At that time, her mother's friends, a married couple, took her in. Her future dream is to become a doctor. "If I were a doctor, I might have been able to help Mama." She is starting to work towards realizing her dream now with great hope.

On the day of the earthquake, Kento was at a club in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, in the middle of enthusiastic rock band practice. He never thought that his family would be caught in a tsunami and their house swept away. He lost his beloved mother, kid brother, and grandparents. When he returned to the house destroyed by the tsunami, he found his brother's favorite blue carp streamer in the mud. In requiem, he set it up to fly in the muddy garden. The media broadcasted the image, and blue carp streamers arrived one after another from all over the country -a symbolic way to cheer up the disaster victims.

Kento, who had been abysmally depressed, suddenly changed…

Born in 1935. Losing his mother in a traffic accident in 1963, Tamai started working as a traffic commentator. His wife also died from spinal cancer in her 20's. The death of these two people close to him formed the starting point of his Ashinaga movement. Fifty years have passed since he began street-side fundraising for children orphaned by traffic accidents in 1968. He has provided educational support for 100,000 youths who fell into poverty when their parents died. His fundraising, including his street-side work, has reached 1.1 trillion yen. His NGO receives zero financial support from the government. Since the beginning of the 21st century, in order to reduce the desperate poverty on the African continent, he has been conducting a "Hundred Year Initiative" to develop new leaders from among capable orphans by sending them to study abroad in various countries.

When Nakamura was invited to provide the music for this work, she took this very big task to heart. Faced with the harsh circumstances beyond the imagination of orphaned children, how could she add music? But the sight of the children themselves doing their best wherever they were, and "Simple Gifts", the theme song they sing, helped ignite her passion for music production. As a maker of music, she felt it was a pleasure to help with what she can, where she is. All the music for this work is in praise of the children and the wonderful adults who support it.

PROFILE ● A major composer of new age music. Nakamura has more than 40 albums including soundtracks released in Japan and overseas. In addition to dramas, she has scored movies (The Centenarian Clock directed by Shusuke Kaneko), animation (Mitaka no Mori Ghibli Art Museum short animation "The Day I Raised a Planet" directed by Hayao Miyazaki), and various video works.

Her parents died of AIDS, and she does not remember them at all. Her 15-member family live in two small rooms. Aunt Margaret, a banana seller, supported all of them. Sharon, the oldest child, does all the housework -everything from cooking, washing, fetching water to house cleaning. Aunt Margaret's health was not good, and occasionally Sharon would sell bananas as well. Her aunt was trying to teach her the business, so it could continue when she died. However, her aunt's condition suddenly deteriorated. Cash income has been cut off, and family life is getting worse.

Associate Professor of Music Theory and choir director at Vassar College since 2003. Howlett's sincerity in her direction and her personality won the hearts of the Ugandan kids, as well as winning her overwhelming popularity with Vassar College students. Mainly under her directorship, the Vassar College choir has transcended the level of college club activity and is conducting semi-professional cultural activities in prestigious concert halls in Europe as well as in the U.S.

Esther knows nothing about her father. By the time she was born he had passed away. In all-female family of mother and sisters, she is the third eldest of five sisters. Without a breadwinner, her family lived in extreme poverty since she was small.  So it was Esther that supported the entire family since the age of 10 when she found her first job as an ice-cream seller and then at the age of 13 she got a job as a broker of football betting. And then, she met Griffin, a choreographer of the music concert " At Home in the World" and her life changed. Griffin, who had been supporting disadvantaged children in Uganda, became her Daddy-Long-Legs. Her dream came true. She enrolled the college and studied theatre. Now she has started her career as an actress. She hopes that someday she would do something to encourage Ugandan girls and boys who are trying hard in poverty.

Born in 1961. Shinoda engaged in Latin America studies and graduated from the Department of Portuguese Studies at Sophia University Faculty of Foreign Studies. From 1983, he interned for one year at a company in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Tamai Yoshiomi established and promoted that internship/study abroad program, and Shinoda has been involved in Ashinaga for many years even after graduation. In 1985, he joined the Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. as a director and producer, and he has created news and documentary programs for many years. In addition, he has been active in theatre/musical stage production, digital strategic planning, and was public relations department manager for the professional baseball team Yokohama Baystars. Currently he is independent, directing stage productions, making visual media products, and working on other projects. Daddy Long Legs is his first feature film.


We are now asking for your support for

our movie " Daddy Long Legs".

We have started crowdfunding in Japan.

We want to show this film to many people in Japan and overseas.

The first step to achieve this goal is theater showing, which we are aiming for by raising fund by crowdfunding.

Moving forward, updates on how the process is coming along will be available on our crowdfunding page and project Facebook page, and we are happy to share our way to theaters with you.

Director & Producer Shinji Shinoda  Assistant Director & Translator Kayoko Parkinson  Director of Photography Hiroyuki Kubota
Production Designer Akihisa Shibasaki / Emi Kajimoto

Editor Koji Hirano Off-line Editor Atsunari Kanahara  On-line Editor & Colorist Yuji Yoshida  Animation by Atom Story  Stills Photography Atsushi Shibuya

Original Music Composed by Yuriko Nakamura / Jusqu'à Grand-père (Hiroaki Takai & Makoto Hirose)

Japanese Film, 2017 / Original title: Daddy Long Legs / 90 minutes

Produced by 2s.Inc


Copyright ©︎ ASHINAGA All rights reserved.

directed by Shinji Shinoda Documentary film
映画『Daddy Long Legs 〜あしながおじさん〜
You are not alone. When you help a child who feels lonely, you might be helping to change the world.
Action X Orphans X Entertainment All amateurs in leading roles and a topnotch producer behind the camera
You are not alone in sorrow.
Simple gifts are God’s supreme gifts.
Education is Everything