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Kamishibai

In an earlier post on the John R. Harold Papers, we highlighted a unique item — a kamishibai that was used for instruction on labor practices.  Kamishibai, a portable wooden “theatre” through which graphic panels were slipped to tell a story, were traditionally used by storytellers on the street to entertain children.  There are 22 kamishibai manuscripts in the Prange Children’s Book Collection.  They have been digitized and are available online in the Prange Digital Children’s Book Collection (due to copyright restrictions, full-text access is limited to the University of Maryland, College Park campus or onsite at the National Diet Library of Japan).  Examples are:

Some of the manuscripts were censored, such as “Banchan no tegara / 番ちゃんの手柄” (Prange Call No. 545-013).  Censored pages from the manuscript are below.

If you’re interested in more information on kamishibai, we recommend two secondary sources:

  • Orbaugh, Sharalyn. “How the Pendulum Swings: Kamishibai and Censorship under the Allied Occupation.” In Ken’etsu, media, bungaku: Edo kara sengo made, edited by Tomi Suzuki, 161-171. Tokyo: Shinyosha, 2012.
  • Yamamoto, Taketoshi. 2000. Kamishibai: machikado no media. (Tōkyō: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan.)
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