Before anime, Japanese paper theater entertained 1-million kids a day


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Does the book talk at all about how the practice of illustrated storytelling in Japan dates back to the medieval period, when Etoki would present illustrated stories (Emaki) to the masses with musical accompaniment?


I am reminded of Punch and Judy shows, in that they’re both examples of intenerent showmen to children…


The Manga Museum in Kyoto had a guy telling the history of kamishibai. Have a photo:


This was back in 2010; I don’t know if he’s still got the gig there.


In 2009, my wife and I spent an afternoon biking around with Tamaharu Nagata, the self-described “last kamishibai man in Tokyo.” I wrote about the experience for Make magazine here: Manga on Wheels (with Snacks).

Here’s a photo of Nagata-san mixing up some mizu-ame (the gooey candy) in a drawer below his stage. After twirling it onto two short sticks, he dipped it in the melon-flavored powder at the right.

The clapping sticks are called hyoshigi, by the way. I’ve made some out of 2x2 lumber for our performances.

David Battino
Storycard Theater


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