Kamishibai Corner

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

Before I get back to the subject of Kamishibai’s 100 year anniversary, I would like to take a moment to honor Children’s Day (子どもの日), which is celebrated in Japan on May 5th. Many years ago, the Japan Society in New York, asked me to write a series of short essays on all the Nenchu goji (年中行事)or annual festivals in Japan. I recently checked their website to see if those essays are still available and was delighted to see that they are still there in their “About Japan Teacher Resources”, but possibly not that easy to find. So here is the link to the one I wrote for Children’s Day, and this is how it begins: Children’s Day is the third of the five seasonal festivals (gosekku) that originally came to Japan in the 6th century along with the Chinese calendar. In China, the fifth day of the fifth month was thought to be heavily yang (as opposed to even numbers, which are yin), a coincidence that was considered auspicious but also potentially dangerous. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, this day would have fallen closer to the middle of June around the beginning of the rainy season, and this seasonal shift could cause instability and make people more vulnerable to illness and misfortune. The Chinese name for the festival, pronounced Tango no sekku (端午の節句) in Japanese, is still commonly used today. I would also like to share a kamishibai story I created for Children’s Day to explain why the carp is such an important symbol. It is called “How Dragons Came to Be,” which seems especially fitting since it is also the year of the dragon!