Weekly Shiritori #13

Last week’s post was about Shizuoka ( しずおか/ 静岡), so this week I need to start with か (ka). I decided to write about…

Kamishibai ( かみしばい/ 紙芝居)

Kamishibai is a traditional form of storytelling, which uses pictures on paper. The pictures are usually placed into some kind of frame, as you can see in the image below.

Kamishibai at Showa Mura

Kami (paper) shibai (drama) originated in the 12th century, in Japanese Buddhist temples. The format at that time was a little different – the pictures were on scrolls called emakimono. The original stories were aimed at a mostly illiterate audience, and tried to teach moral lessons.

During the Showa period (1926 – 1989), kamishibai saw a bit of a revival, and took the form that we know today (as in the picture above). Storytellers would travel from town to town by bicycle, telling stories and selling candy. They were kind of “story buskers”, I suppose.

Kamishibai has a small following outside of Japan, but it’s not as popular or well-known as other Japanese traditional performing arts, and it’s not something you come across much in Japan, either. I’ve only encountered it twice – once at Showa Mura, a Showa period theme park in Gifu Prefecture, and once as part of a play called Urashima Taro, at a theatre in London. However, I have heard that some people are trying to use the idea of kamishibai as a new way of educational story-telling, which I think is wonderful. I certainly wish I’d thought to use it when teaching English to children!


Kamishibai (かみしばい) ends with い (i), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “i”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below! And, don’t forget, no words ending in ん!  (^_^)v

2 thoughts on “Weekly Shiritori #13

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