Kamishibai

Kamishibai is a traditional storytelling technique popularised by travelling performers who visited rural communities to tell stories using picture boards slotted into a theatre-style frame. These simple versions of kamishibai consist of a set of pictures, with the story written on the reverse, designed to be held by the storyteller. This format lends itself to various classroom activities.

The Japan Society’s (formerly Japan 21) Japan in Your Classroom volunteers frequently use kamishibai in their school visits and have created their own sets. We also have a limited number of kamishibai linked to particular festivals in Japan – availability is limited and we will confirm this on receipt of bookings. A full list of kamishibai available is given below.

Kamishibai are sent either by first class or parcel post, depending on which is cheaper. The cost per pack varies in accordance with ParcelForce charges. One or two kamishibai can be sent together with a Japan Activity Chest without affecting the normal Chest postage cost.

To request kamishibai or if you have any questions, please email us or telephone 020 3075 1995.

Traditional Folktales

  • Momotaro (Peach Boy). Tells the story of a boy found in a peach, who grows up to defeat the monsters terrifying his village. Most suitable for Reception – approx. Y4.
  • Hanasaka Jiisan (The old man who made flowers blossom) A classic tale of good rewarded and wickedness reaping its just deserts. Most suitable for KS1 & KS2.
  • Kaguyahime (The Moon Princess aka The Bamboo Cutter’s Tale). This is a legend from ancient Japan. A baby girl found in a clump of bamboo quickly grows up to become a beautiful young woman, wooed by knights from far and wide. Most suitable for Y4 upwards.
  • Tsuru no Ongaeshi (The Crane Maiden).

Japanese Festivals

  • The god of the new year. A story explaining the origin of Japanese new year customs.
  • The demon and the farmer. This is one of many versions of the legend about the origins of Setsubun, celebrated each year around 3 February.
  • The doll who became a princess. The story of the doll festival (hina matsuri) which is celebrated across Japan on 3 March.
  • Thank you, koi-nobori. Explaining the origins of the custom of flying carp streamers to celebrate Children’s Day on 5 May.
  • Bridge across the Milky Way. The story of Altair and Vega, which inspired the tanabata festival, celebrated on 7 July (and in some areas, 7 August).
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    Tel: 020 7935 0475

    The Japan Society
    13/14 Cornwall Terrace
    London NW1 4QP