What is Kamishibai?
Before we show you how to get the most out of your Kamishibai, we are going back many years to tell you where it comes from. Kamishibai is a Japanese word that literally means “paper drama”.
This traditional way of telling stories in public through images has its origins in the Buddhist temples of Japan in the 12th century and in the early 20th century evolved with the "Gaito Kamishibaiya" ( which means something like "the storyteller"), who traveled from village to village with their bicycle and their wooden kamishibai to tell traditional stories to children. The children, in exchange, bought him the treats he carried with him and thus made a living.
Today, Kamishibai theatre is used by parents, children, educators, teachers... and anyone who believes that it is possible to bring different people together through a simple story.
How do I use my Kamishibai PRO?
Now that you know a little more about the history of Kamishibai, KUMA is going to teach you how to use it so you can get the most out of it.
It is important that you become familiar with the butai (wooden theater) before using it. As you can see, it comes folded as a briefcase with a comfortable carrying handle.
Place it on a table or high surface, pull open the thread that connects the doors slowly, lift up the top door and finally open the side doors. There you go!
Rehearse its opening a few times before using it in front of your audience and you'll turn this moment into magic.
The first thing you have to do is to sort all the story cards of the Kamishibai tale from image #1 to the last one in sequential order: 01, 02, 03, etc... and with all the illustrations facing the same side.
The cards are already ordered when you buy them, but we are not responsible for what the little ones can do if they have played with them.
Make sure they are in perfect order, otherwise... You could get a crazy story!
Once you have ordered the story cards, place them all at once into the inner slot of the Kamishibai theatre (at the back), showing the 01 card (colour illustration) to the audience.
The corners are rounded so that it is much easier for you to place them. And don't worry if they get dirty, folded or fall out of the theater, the paper is thick and has a varnish that makes it easy to clean.
We've tried it with all kinds of kids and it endures everything, but we're not responsible if pets use it.
Put your small (or large) audience in front of the theater. We recommend that you sit them on the floor and place the theater on an elevated surface. This way you will get their full attention.
Stand behind the Kamishibai theatre and introduce yourself as Gaito Kamishibaiya by saying that you have a very special story with you, for example.
Begin the story by reading the text on the back of the last card which corresponds to the image shown at the time (card 01 at the beginning of the story).
Pay attention to the storytelling directions, which will help you convey the story in all its force (slowly open the kamishibai, now use a deep voice, now quickly pass the story card, etc.). We recommend rehearsing the story a couple of times before jumping into action.
Once you have read the text corresponding to card 01, pull it out to your right (or left) and place it at the bottom of the cards that are already in the Kamishibai theatre. That is, the first one you have in sight to be able to read the text behind.
Keep doing this until you finish the narration of the last scene shown (end of the story), whose text you will find on the back of the penultimate story card.
You'll probably hear "again, again" so you'll have to repeat the process... as many times as it takes to calm your audience.
If you want an example of how to tell a particular story, be sure to read the blog article from our Kamishibai Community "How to Tell the Kamishibai Story "The Sun Cat" (with music)".