The Japan Society

Kamishibai Set

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 wooden frame. These simple versions of storyboards 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.

Our 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.

Below is the full list of kamishibai available.

Traditional Folktales

Momotaro (Peach Boy)

Tells the story of a boy found in a peach, who grows up to defeat the monsters terrorising his village.

Suitable for Reception to Year 4.

Kaguya Hime (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.

Hanasaka Jiisan (The old man who made flowers blossom)

A classic tale of good rewarded and wickedness reaping its just desserts.

Most suitable for KS2.

Tsuru no Ongaeshi (The Crane Maiden)

A story from a Japanese folklore about a crane who returns the favour to a man who saved it.

Suitable for both KS1 and KS2.

The Spider's Thread 

A moral tale about good, evil and redemption, originally written by remowned Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

Suitable for KS3 and above.

Japanese Festivals

For many Japanese festivals (New Year, Setsubun, Hina Matsuri and Children's Day) two different kamishibai stories are available; we will select the story most suitable for the year group, or teachers can specify their preference when making a request.

New Year

The God of the New Year

A story explaining the origin of Japanese new year customs.

Suitable for Reception to Year 4.

Taa-chan’s Oshogatsu 

A little girl and her family get ready to celebrate the New Year and deal with the loss of her beloved pet hamster. Themes: new beginnings, dealing with loss, reincarnation.

Suitable for Year 2 to Year 6.


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.

Suitable for Reception to Year 4.


As the Setsubun Festival approaches, an ‘oni’ (ogre) boy faces prejudice from some of his human classmates. Themes: prejudice, bullying, friendship

Suitable for Year 2 to Year 6.

Hina Matsuri

The Doll who became a Princess

The story of the Doll Festival (Hina Matsuri) which is celebrated across Japan on 3 March.

Suitable for Reception to Year 4.

Momoko and Hina

A little girl unpacks her hina dolls to ease her homesickness after moving from Japan to the UK and is amazed when the dolls come to life! Themes: dealing with change (moving home and new siblings) 

Suitable for Year 3 to Year 6.

Children's Day

Thank you, Koinobori

Explaining the origins of the custom of flying carp streamers to celebrate Children’s Day on 5 May.

Suitable for Reception to Year 4.

Swim Swim Koinobori

A young boy and a sentient koi carp flag change their mind about the Children’s Day festival in Japan when they learn that families can come in all shapes and sizes. Themes: family, diversity (including LGBTQ)

Suitable for Year 2 to Year 6.


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).

Suitable for Reception to Year 6.