May 16, 2006


Kamishibai means "paper theater". In the old days, a kamishibai man would park his bicycle in a neighborhood to sell candy and tell a story. Allen Say wrote a book called Kamishibai Man. It is a very good story and the pictures are excellent.

A couple of years ago, I read in a magazine that a storyteller told stories using kamishibai in an area called Asakusa in Tokyo. It was done for tourists in the summer months. There may be kamishibai men in some villages. There isn't one in our neighborhood.

Kamishibai is used at libraries, at schools and at home. This is the kamishibai that we can borrow from our local library. The librarian puts the wooden theater and storycards in a bag to protect it. It also makes it easier to carry home. The white lettering on this blue bag says "kamishibai" in hiragana. All of the stories are written in hiragana, the first letters that children learn.

Most children learn it before kindergarten. While I was at the library looking through the storycards today, a small girl was reading a story to her mother. The child was sitting on the floor in front of a stool holding just the cards up in front of her mother. I wish I had had my camera!

For more information about kamishibai look at Kamishibai For Kids or The International Association for Kamishibai. The sites are in English.

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