Kamishibai Corner

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

As promised, this blogpost is a continuation of the last, where I provided a synopsis of a discussion among four influential voices in the world of kamishibai in Japan, moderated by the head of the Children’s Cultural Research Center in Tokyo, Suzuki Takako. In the beginning of their conversation, they looked back at the history of kamishibai and the various challenges it has faced, and in the second half, their discussion shifts to new directions in kamishibai’s future.  I should preface this synopsis of their discussion by pointing out that the people involved are, for the most part, the older guard of the kamishibai world today. Sakai Kyōko, Nagano Hideko, and Miyazaki Fumie all range in age from 70 to 80, and the youngest member of the group, Tsukahara is probably 40-50 years old. This is important to understand because the tensions that arise in this conversation amongst the participants come out of their greater or lesser ability to imagine definitions of kamishibai changing or expanding going forward. Perhaps the most fearful for kamishibai’s future is, in fact, the youngest member, Tsukahara, who wonders if kamishibai will even be around by 2030, its centennial year. He argues that unless there is more effort put into nurturing a younger generation of kamishibai enthusiasts in Japan, kamishibai’s future in its country of origin is pretty dire. But how, he asks, is the younger generation going to be inspired to engage in kamishibai when there are so many other distractions from social media, the internet, and now AI? Interestingly, Tsukahara used ChatGPT to ask the question: What is the future of kamishibai? I will translate ChatGPT’s answer to his question later in this post. The one who is by far the strictest about her definition of kamishibai is Sakai Kyōko, president of Dōshinsha and […]