Kamishibai Corner

Thoughts, musings and discussions weekly about kamishibai, Illustrating, and picture books.

In my third blog post, I will share some insights from the third article in the special issue of the journal, Children’s Culture (Kodomo no bunka), titled Kamishibai’s 100 Years—New Challenges (Kamishibai 100 nen—Aratana chōsen, published by the Research Center for Children’s Culture, July 8, 2023).  Again, it is more of a discussion than an article, this time amongst four influential people in the world of kamishibai in Japan today, moderated by the Director of the Research Center for Children’s Culture in Tokyo, Suzuki Takako. The four discussants: Nagano Hideko, renowned picture-book and kamishibai author and president of the Kamishibai Bunka Suishin Kyōkai (Association for Promoting Kamishibai Culture) Miyazaki Fumie, kamishibai author and researcher and vice-president of the Kamishibai Bunka Suishin Kyōkai (Association for Promoting Kamishibai Culture) Sakai Kyōko, president of Dōshinsha publishing company and representative of Kamishibai Bunka no Kai (IKAJA) Tsukahara Shigeyuki, Professor of Children’s Education at Seisen Women’s College. He is also a professional clown and kamishibai performer and theorist. This discussion may surprise kamishibai enthusiasts outside Japan because of the relative lack of information available about how kamishibai is viewed in Japan today. Histories of kamishibai in English often begin with the street-performance art in the 1930s and end with the disappearance of kamishibai off the streets of Japan with the advent of television in the 1950s, as in Allen Say’s widely acclaimed Kamishibai Man (2005). Everything post World War II is often treated broadly as “kamishibai today,” and there is an assumption that, since kamishibai was invented in Japan, it must be thriving there. But there have actually been a lot of interesting movements, countermovements, setbacks and developments with kamishibai in the nearly 80 years since the end of WWII, and it has actually been a pretty bumpy road! As the discussants point out, kamishibai has been in […]