The Japan Society

Digital Kamishibai

Subject: English / Other Topics
Level: Key Stage 1 / Key Stage 2 / Key Stage 3
Age: 5-7 years / 7-11 years / 11-15 years
Resource Type: Activities / Presentations / Other

Kamishibai originates from traditional Japanese street theatre in the form of picture card storytelling. Our digital kamishibai make Japanese stories easily accessible to all. Using these resources you can either:

• Print out and make your own kamishibai cards
• Tell the stories using the presentations

Many of these kamishibai are also available to loan. See here for more information.

Popular traditional stories

Momotaro – Peach Boy

The story of a boy found in a peach, who goes on an adventure to defeat the monsters terrorising his village.

Suitable for both KS1 and KS2.

Kaguya Hime - The Moon Princess (aka The Bamboo Cutter's Tale)

A legend from ancient Japan about a baby girl found in a bamboo stalk who grows up to become a beautiful young woman.

Most suitable for Y4 upwards.

Hanasaka Jiisan -The Old Man Who Made Flowers Bloom

An old couple come into good fortune when they find a puppy, but their mean-spirited neighbours are unbearably jealous. A classic tale of good being rewarded and wickedness receiving its just desserts.

Most suitable for KS2

Tsuru no Ongaeshi – The Grateful Crane

A story from Japanese folklore about a crane who repays the kindness of a man who saved it.

Most suitable for KS1 and KS2.

The Spider's Thread

Originally written by the renowned Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa, this is a moral tale about Kandata, a ruthless sinner who has a chance to escape Hell and enter Paradise because he once spared the life of a spider. 

Suitable for KS3 and above.

Stories related to festivals and celebrations

The Story of Tanabata - Bridge Across the Milky Way

This story tells of the annual reunion of two lovers in the Milky Way and is the inspiration for the Tanabata Festival, celebrated in Japan on 7 July (and in some areas, 7 August). The characters in the story represent the stars Vega and Altair. 

Suitable for both KS1 and KS2.

Tsuki no Usagi - The Moon Rabbit

This tells the story of how there came to be a rabbit on the moon. One day, a fox, a monkey and a rabbit come across an old man in need of help.

Suitable for Reception to Year 4.

Swim, Swim, Koinobori - NEW

A story about the Children’s Day festival in Japan and the custom of displaying colourful carp-shaped flags called koinobori to represent one’s family.

Suitable for both KS1 and KS2.

Taa-chan's Oshogatsu - NEW

A story about a little girl celebrating the New Year in Japan with her family at the same time as dealing with the loss of her beloved pet hamster, Ham. 

Suitable for both KS1 and KS2.

Onikko - NEW

Kanta is an oni boy who loves school and gets on well with his human classmates. That is until a new student, Saki, arrives and starts making his life difficult. As the setsubun festival approaches, the situation worsens and his sister resolves to help. 

Suitable for both KS1 and KS2.

Momoko and Hina - NEW

In this story, Momoko has just moved from Japan to the UK and is struggling with feelings of homesickness, as well as having to get used to the arrival of her new baby brother! To cheer her up, Momoko’s mum suggests getting out her hina dolls early. Momoko soon discovers that the dolls have a life of their own…

Suitable for Year 2 to Year 6.

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