Kamishibai brings storytelling to life

Kamishibai, literally “paper drama” is a form of storytelling that originated in the 12th century, when monks used picture scrolls to convey stories.  In more modern times, the kamishibai storyteller rode from village to village on a bicycle equipped with a small stage. On arrival, the storyteller used two wooden clappers to announce his arrival. Children who bought candy from the storyteller got seats in front of the stage. Once an audience assembled, the storyteller told several stories using a set of illustrated boards, inserted into the stage and withdrawn one by one, as the story was told.

At the ELC this week, we were fortunate to have a kamishibai troupe from Yokohama present for our children. They used their story placards, stage and music to bring to life this traditional form of storytelling. It was a treat for the children.  Much thanks to the ASIJ Alumni Council and ELC PTA for providing this opportunity.

We’re keeping kamishibai alive here at the ELC. The teachers have been telling traditional kamishibai stories, we had a lovely presentation this week, and our kindergarten children are writing their own kamishibai stories!  Allen Say’s beautiful book, Caldecott Award winner, Kamishibai Man, is also a remembrance of this time in Japan. It is a wonderful book, one that our children have enjoyed over and over! (Judy Beneventi, ELC Director)