Can Anyone Help with a Canadian Song “Yoki and the Kaiser” – Possibly with Korean Origins

Patricia wrote:

Wondering if you have heard the words to a 50’s skipping game we played using elastics?

I believe it was originally a Korean children’s game and the children of missionaries brought it back to Canada in 1939. Original words:

Rioyun, Kaiyo, Yaku navide etc.

This song was taught to commemorate the victory of Russian-Japanese war of 1905 and written by a Japanese poet (After this war, Japan occupied Korea).

The words we sang as children here in Ontario were:

Yoki and the Kaiser, Yoki addy ay, Tamba, so-ba, Sa-du, say-day. Yoki in the Kaiser, Yoki allee-ay, Kick him in the so-po, Sa-du, sa-day!

We had no idea what we were singing!

Ontario Canada

It just so happens that Bill Conrad had asked me about this song last year. Here’s what he wrote:

In Montreal, in the 50’s, girls used to celebrate Spring with skipping ropes and elastics. While playing the elastic game they sung a “ditty” that went somewhat like this,”Yolem a Kaiser,Yokem addiay….” Do you know what I am referring to? Bill Conrod

I’m not familiar with this song. If anyone else can help out with the lyrics, meaning or origins of this song (or of the original song it comes from) please comment below.



PS I have one question for Patricia and Bill: Does skipping ropes with elastics mean playing Chinese jump rope?

This article was posted on Friday, May 4th, 2007 at 10:57 am and is filed under American Kids Songs, Canada, Canadian Children's Songs, Children's Songs, Chinese Jump Rope, Countries & Cultures, Elastics, English, Games Around the World, Japan, Korean, Korean Children's Songs, Languages, Questions, Readers Questions, Skipping Game, South Korea, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

135 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with a Canadian Song “Yoki and the Kaiser” – Possibly with Korean Origins”

  1. Michelle Johnston Says:

    Well that was fun! I remember Yoki well. It was my favourite game when I attended Hillcrest Public School in the fifties. But whenever I would mention it to my current friends i would get blank stares. So nice to get some history on it. Clearly a Canadian game and it seems mostly played in Toronto. Thanks for the memories.

  2. Karen Selick Says:

    Thanks to everyone who preceded me on this site. I was trying today to remember how we used to play “yogi” in Downsview, at Anthony Road Public School, in the 1960s. It seems there are numerous versions of this game, and some people described roughly what I can remember. But I had completely forgotten about the ball-in-the-stocking game, “Hello, hello, hello, sir.” I think there were different challenges to meet there, directing the ball to different locations relative to your arms and legs. I wonder if that could be revived? I do volunteer work with a bunch of girls aged 6 and 7. I’m pretty sure they’d like this stuff.

  3. Lynda Says:

    What a great trip through history. I went to Lyndwood PS in Mississauga in the early 50’s and clearly remember playing Yoki and the Kaiser. It was interesting to read the different words that people used. My sister and I just read through the entire blog and really enjoyed everyone’s posts, although we don’t have much new to add.

    We only remember chanting and not singing the words. Lots of good memories.

  4. Marg Says:

    My sister in law and I were just talking about this the other day – so glad I found this site. We grew up in Newmarket and my version went – Yoki and the Kaiser, Yoki addy aye, San Francisco U S A It was wonderful growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.

  5. Patsy Morris Says:

    While searching for ancestry I came acrosss the word “kaiser” and I immediately thought of Yoki, a childhood game that I played at recess – Cameron Ave. P.S. In Willowdale in the late 50s.
    So many times I’ve asked others if they ever heard of Yoki and was met with frowns and comments like ” You played a game with the Kaiser’s name in it”? The lyrics I remember were:
    Yoki in the Kaiser
    Yoka dodi day,
    ______in th sobo
    The boys played marbles or alleys. The girls skipped with ropes.
    All this when the long dreary months of winter were over and the warmth spring was felt . The schoolyard was alive with activity.
    This site gave me a walk down “memory lane”

  6. Elsa Says:

    I caught myself singing “Yogi in the Kaiser” this morning….

    “Yogi alley ay
    Tank in the syllabus
    Ali ally allay”

    And thought: what is this ridiculous song I have known for 60 years that no one around me has ever heard?

    So I googled it! What a laugh reading all these comments! I played at Oriole Park (Avenue Rd & Eglinton) in the late 50’s, early 60’s. I attribute my quick ambidextrous hands to Ordinary Movings!! And I hadn’t thought of the ball in the stocking for so long! This is a precious site to have found😆.

  7. Cathie Says:

    It was called Yogi in Winnipeg in the early 1970’s. I’ve just made a ball in stocking and I’m now teaching these to my 10 year old daughter. Thanks for the memories!

  8. Lyn McCauley Says:

    Hilarious. The words at Meadowlands Public School in what is now called Nepean (west of Ottawa) were:

    Yogi on Kaiser
    Yogi on a yay
    Tank in a soda boat
    Sadu Saday.

    …and yes, when mentioned anywhere else in the world, eyebrows are raised.

  9. Jan Mayall Says:

    Played Yoki on a kaiser at Thisletown Public School in the early 50’s . Remembering the fun with elastics strung together, two people, one at each end of the 3 meter length and one person jumping up and down to the tune putting one foot over, then back for the first two lines. Then for Sadu …jumping all the way over and for saday, jumping all the way back. It started at the ankle which was easy and as it went up to the knee, then hip, then waist, it got harder. One girl Gail someone from Woodbridge area cartwheeled over at the end. It was fabulous! So happy to share these memories!!!!

  10. Yinney Says:

    Love all this!
    My childhood revisited!
    What about “Lady-in-the-tight-skirt” ..played with a tennis ball in a stocking.

  11. Lynne P Alexander Hollingsworth Says:

    Oh I remember this so well! It is amazing that I could sing it into my iPad and Google and find this post for me! We played it all the time in Toronto at armour Heights public school in the 50s. It is so need to find other people knew this rhyme, or remembered it, and to learn what it was originally meant to be.

  12. Wendy Kemp Says:

    I went to Westacres PS in Cooksville Ontario (now Mississauga) in the 1960s.
    We too played “Yogi on a kaiser, yogi on eeyay, tax in the syllable, sadoo, saday (alternate sooey ooey ay”.).
    Also played on the playground was a game with chestnuts that had a hole drilled through them and then attach a one foot string. After digging a small hole in the ground, the object was to take turns flinging your chestnut onto the opponents chestnut which was resting in the hole. The winner was the chestnut that didn’t bust off its string. That’s about all I remember about that game.
    Those years were carefree and we learned to make our own fun or how to handle being bored. ❤

  13. Lindy Moran Says:

    Played so many games like all of these at Hollywood Public school in the 50’s. Yoki, double dutch (skipped for a whole recess once), marbles (made our own game with cardboard), the sock (nylon) game against the wall. So many wonderful memories. All of them fun.

  14. Georgina Black Says:

    I remember playing Yoki in the late 50’s in the schoolyard in Toronto but the words we used were M I SS I PP I as we threw a leg over the double rope of elastics which was held by one girl and a second girl had it going around her legs. It was done really fast and your leg was going in and out and over the elastics. I never knew till now where the name originated. I was looking up the name because my grandson (in Ireland) is doing a project on school in my day and what games I played there. Of course I remembered double-dutch, hopscotch, dodge ball and chasing/tag of course – often with burrs – lol. All good fun.

  15. Lisa Says:

    Hi Georgina – I’m curious what you did with burrs?! -Mama Lisa

  16. Brian Mossop Says:

    I remember girls on my street in East York chanting this ditty in the 1950s. At first, I thought they were saying ‘yogi in the kaiser’. Something to do with Yogi Bear, I thought? Later, when I learned about WWI, I thought it must have originated back then as “yoking in the Kaiser” (that is, keeping him locked in), and the words had got distorted with the passage of time.

  17. Nancy Pasz Says:

    It was wonderful to find this blog and relive memories. I grew up in Newtonbrook (Willowdale) and went to Lillian Street P.S. in the 50’s & early 60’s. I remember singing Yoki or Yogi in the Kaiser, but the rest of the words are hazy. Maybe because they didn’t make any sense? The girls played lots of skipping. It was an accomplishment to learn how to skip double dutch! The boys played Red Rover. We used to buy hand size red, white & blue balls & throw them against the school walls. Not sure why! We collected marbles and big cat’s eyes were the best ones! We rode “coaster bikes” to school. I went to Northmount Junior High for one year in Grade 7 and learnt to play the flute in band. So much fun!! The high school for the area was Newtonbrook Secondary, but I was sent to an all girls school for Gr.8-12 & went to Lawrence Park C.I. for Gr.12 & 13. Our son teaches at Newtonbrook & lives in North York, so history has come full circle. Serendipity or just coincidence? Hm…

  18. Tina Davies Says:

    Wow! I am blown away by all these fabulous memories. Never imagined that yoki, Ordinary Movings, the ball in the stocking may have been regional Toronto games. I went to Bannockburn Public School in Toronto, near Avenue Rd & south of Wilson in the late 50’s, early 60’s. (And as an aside to the previous Christine Robert’s, I was Christine Robert’s too in those days, before I married, but didn’t come from England at 2!). We played all these games for hours & hours. Loved yoki and was really good at it, and remember cartwheeling over the arms-lengths stage. We played with a double rope sometimes too. Played ‘Ordinary Moving’ at home alone & with my friends with the red, blue & white ball, ending the song (as previously mentioned) with away-she-goes as you spin around and catch the ball as you complete the circle. Same with ball in the nylon stocking, and gradually the stocking would fray on the brick wall and the ball would fly out. Sang all those songs!! I have tried to tell people about these games over the years, and they never played them! One more thing though, and this isn’t a nice game…it is bullying. I remember bigger girls, usually in a group of 3, surrounding a smaller girl with arms linked so she couldn’t escape, and chanting…”hair, dress, or shoe, or nothing”. If the child picked ‘hair’, each big girl would pull her hair, ‘dress’…pull up her dress, shoe…step on her shoe, and if she picked ‘nothing’, then she would get all 3 while the girls laughed ferociously. Anyone remember that?

  19. Anne Says:

    Soooo great!
    Here’s what we sang in Don Mills in the ‘60’s…
    Yogi an’ The Kaiser
    Tanks in the Sobo
    Sadu Saday.

    The red, white and blue rubber ball game ‘Ordinary Moving’ went like this:
    Ordinary moving
    Laughing, talking,
    One hand, the other hand,
    One foot, the other foot,
    Front to back,
    Back to front,
    Taweedles, tawaudles,
    Curtsies, bowsies,
    Salutesies, jumpsies,
    And away-she-goes!

  20. judy Says:

    Here in Quebec we sang:

    Yogi and the tiger
    Yodi yadi yeaaah….
    Tenessee assuba
    Saloo salay…

    We had no idea what we were saying but we played it with elastics……

    Those were the days…..cheers!

  21. Lynne Chellingworth Says:

    Wow! I was talking about this game today and showing my granddaughter how we jumped over a stretched piece of elastic. I came home and decided to try to see if anyone else remembered.
    I grew up in a suburb of Ottawa and went to Brooklane PS (now defunct), Meadowlands PS and Cityview PS – they kept moving us around for some reason.
    I have just turned 66 and could recall all the words but sometimes can’t remember what I did yesterday!
    Yogi on the Kaiser, yogi, yudi ay
    Tanky on a soda boat, sudoo ssaday

    I have no idea if those are the words but that’s what we sang as we jumped higher and higher over the elastic. Simpler times.

  22. Don T. Says:

    I also attended Armour heights P.S. from 1951 to 1956. This brought back many memories. Springtime brought out the “Yoki’s”, the red white blue ball, alleys and that darn double dutch skipping rope. Playground was full of all these activities until the fall when the cooked chesnuts on a string were brought out for another crazy game!

  23. Lisa Says:

    Hi Don, Please share the chestnuts on a string game! Thanks! Mama Lisa

  24. Don Says:

    “Chesnuts on a string” was originally a British game imported into Canada, called “Conkers”.

    The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking each other’s conker until one breaks.

    The game has 2 players, each with their own carefully selected conker which has been drilled to create a hole and threaded onto a piece of string. A basic idea of the game is to strike the opponent’s conker and try to break it – your conker is then the victor. To win the game it is important to have the hardest conker!

  25. Lisa Says:

    That’s cool Don! Thanks for explaining how to play it!

  26. Lindy or Lynaire Douglas Says:

    Used to play Yoki in the playground at Hollywood Public School in Willowdale, Ontario. I remember the words but I don’t remember how we played it. Using elastic bands that would get caught in the hairs on your legs!! Strange seeing the words actually printed out as we had no idea what we were singing.

  27. Linda White Says:

    I have had such fun reliving the memories of my childhood through all these comments! Particularly to Patsy Morris who attended Cameron Ave Public School. I also attended the same school in the fifties in 55 say I would have been 8 yrs old, lived on Gwendolen Ave.

  28. Sandra Says:

    I played this with my friends in Montreal in the early 60s. Our version clearly has the same origins but the words changed a little!

    Yogi in the taiser
    yogi audi ay
    Tennessee a soda
    sawdu, sawday

    I really enjoyed seeing the other versions, and learning a bit more about where the game came from.

  29. Carolyn McMurray Says:

    I am so happy to see this site. Brings back memories of that game Yogi. It was definitely regional, because other areas don’t remember that game. I kind of remember words similar…

    Yogi on a Kaiser
    Yogi on a yay
    Tamba, soya
    Souie, Ouie ay

    Going to Queensway school in the 50’s, I loved that and double Dutch.

  30. Stephanie Smith Says:

    I too remember playing this game in the 1950’s and 60’s with a variation on all the words everyone else has used here. But when I came home singing that song, my mother laughed and said that it was a bastardization (she probably used a better word than that) of a World War I song about Kaiser Wilhelm. She sang the original song to me and yes, that’s what it was — and you can see how it evolved over the decades since 1914! But I don’t remember what the original words were and can’t find anything on the internet that’s even close. If anyone has an older relative alive that remembers this, I’d love to know what those words were.

  31. Donna Harper Says:

    I am so happy to know other people remember this game. I lived in Toronto in the 50’s and played this game every day.
    We sang “Yolanda on the Kaiser Yoken on the at tanga soa Sue Sue at”.

    Nobody I ask has ever heard of it so I am pleased to know other people remember it.

  32. Joan Says:

    So pleased to read all these memories! We played yogi with elastics at St Gabriel’s school in Willowdale in the early 60’s. Our words were: yogi in the Kaiser, yogi ninety-eh, tanks in the sobo, caillou, caillay. And all those other games as well.

  33. Rhonda Grochowski Says:

    I remember Yogi very well using the elastics. Lambton
    Kingsway Public School in Etibicoke.

  34. Linda Says:

    I had know idea that this site existed. I was trying to remember the game Yoki to explain it to my 2 grand daughters. For the past couple of weeks the rhyme kept popping up in my head. When we played it in the later 40’s we joined a lot of elastic bands together. You didn’t step right over the elastic rope but I do remember one leg going back and forth over the elastic that was held by a person at each end. It probably was about 18″ – 24″ from the ground. My Daughter was convinced that I had know idea what I was talking about so showing her this she will not think her 80 plus mother is loosing it. I went to School in the Downsview area.

  35. lee kalpin Says:

    I am delighted that other people remember this. We all sang it a little differently. I remember is as:
    Yoki and the Kaiser, Yoki adi aye. Tank and the sobo, sadoo, saday!

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