Complete set of 20 kamishiabi cards on the teachings of Jesus, done in 1935. Created by a Japanese missionary who studied in the USA named Imai Yone. A rare set as these were outlawed during the Pacific War and were destroyed or confiscated when found and therefore difficult to find in a complete and good condition. One curious aspect of the Christian kamishibai is that many of the stories are from the Old Testament rather than the New Testament. They tend to focus on stories of Moses, Noah, and David rather than Jesus. That isn’t to say that there aren’t stories of Jesus, it’s just that Old Testament stories are more prevalent and New Testament stories are more scarce. N
Note: Kamishibai is a form of storytelling on the streets, schools and libraries that originated in Japan. Most Kamishibai stories consist of 12 to 16 sturdy cards, beautifully illustrated cards. On the back is the text. The way of telling story is unique. A story teller reads text on the back of a card and he/she pulls from the front of the stack and slides it to the stack, so that a new illustration is revealed to audiences and provides the matching story text on the back of the last card to them. Kamishibai flourished in the 1930s. From the 1950s and the adevent of TV (referred to as “electric kamishibai” initially), Kamishibai gradualy disappeared. But it has never entirely died out. Kamishibai stories for educational purposes are still being published and can be found in schools and libraries throughout Japan Author Jeffrey Dym writes in IMAI YONE AND THE CREATION OF EDUCATIONAL KAMISHIBAI….
In 1930, in the Shitamachi section of Tokyo, a new form of children’s entertainment called kamishibai (paper theater) emerged. It quickly became one of the most popular forms of children’s entertainment and in the early postwar years was the most popular form of entertainment in Japan, attracting more spectators than even motion pictures. Kamishibai primarily emerged as a vehicle for unemployed men to earn a living by selling penny-candy. Men traveled through cities on foot or bicycle, set up their stage (about the size of a 20-inch monitor), and proceeded to sell candy to the children gathered around. Those children who bought candy could then view the show. The show entailed the kamishibaiya (the performer) telling a story accompanied by 10-12 hand-painted picture cards. As the story progressed, the kamishibaiya pulled the top card out revealing the next picture in the sequence of the tale. Almost from its inception, critics and social moralists condemned kamishibai. It was a plebian art performed by uncouth men who presented vulgar stories and sold unhealthy and unhygienic treats. The criticism never affected the popularity of kamishibai, nor did it stop the female Christian missionary Imai Yone from going to see it. Imai Yone was born in 1897. After graduating from Tokyo’s Higher Women’s Teacher’s School, she taught at the Toyama Higher Women’s School. It was at this time that she began studying with Kagawa Toyohiko, a man engaged in Christian social work in the slums of Japan. The social help movement took off following the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Wanting to help others, Imai left the teaching profession and went to work fulltime for this movement. In 1927 Imai left Japan to study social work and religious education in America. Upon her return in 1931 she set up a Christian mission in Tokyo. Sensing that students were skipping Sunday School to watch kamishibai, Imai set out to see what kamishibai was all about. Rather than being appalled by the erotic-grotesque-nonsense of kamishibai as many social critics were, Imai saw the intrinsic pedagogical and proselytizing power of kamishibai and immediately set out to create her own. The first kamishibai that she made was Shonen David (Young David) in July 1933, and over the next 18 months she published a series of 12 biblical stories. Altogether she published about 50 kamishibai, most of them biblical tales. With the creation of Young David, Imai established a completely new branch of kamishibai that became known as educational kamishibai (kyoiku kamishibai). Educational kamishibai consciously tried to distinguish itself from street kamishibai (gaito kamishibai) by presenting educational stories and morality tales. Following upon Imai’s breakthrough, a number of educators in the 1930s became actively involved in creating and publishing kamishibai that could be used in the classroom. Today, kamishibai is still an integral part of nursery and kindergarten education in Japan and it is all thanks to Imai Yone’s ground-breaking work.
Dr. Tara M. McGowan writes in, The Many Faces of Kamishibai (Japanese Paper Theater): Past, Present, and Future …. (Imai) hired kamishibai artists to create dramatic stories from the Bible, such as the story of “Noah and the Flood,” “The Good Shepherd,” “David and Goliath,” and “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” Imai emulated the rental system of the street performance artists so that her stories could reach a wide audience.C:\Users\owen\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\1BLOTOK6\Japan Society Article.docx - _ftn6 By 1933, she had organized a troupe of performers called the “Kamishibai Missionaries” (kamishibai dendō dan) and had co-founded the Kamishibai Publishing Company (kamishibai kankō kai). Imai made several significant innovations to the kamishibai format. She increased the size of the cards to what we now consider the normal size for the standard kamishibai stage (10 ½ X 15 inches), nearly double the size of the cards used by street performance artists. She wrote complete scripts for the stories that could be read from the backs of the cards with instructions for how they should be performed, and she developed kamishibai stories with images that could be published in journal format. These pages could be taken out, colored in, and glued to stiff cardboard so that they could be assembled and performed even in remote areas of Japan. Although Imai wrote the scripts for the stories herself, she commissioned street performance artists to create the images for her stories because she recognized that their flamboyant, cinematic style would make the Bible stories come to life for young audiences. These stories are also sometimes referred to as Gospel Kamishibai (Fuku-in kamishibai)…..