What is Kamishibai?

Kamishibai (paper theatre) storytelling originated in Japan and was very popular between the 1920s – 50s. The storytellers attached small stages to their bicycles and delivered their tales in the open air.


Kamishibai as a form of visual storytelling, is connected to comic books and animation.

In recent times Kamishibai has ignited the imaginations of storytellers and artists around the world.

My kamishibai stages

I have two stages: one is beautifully hand-crafted from recycled eucalyptus by my friend Ted Smith, and the other, I made from paper mache and I can fix it to my bike for ‘stories on wheels’.

Kamishibai story - video

Here’s an example of a story recorded for World Storytelling Day 2015. It's called Split Dog.

What's special about Kamishibai stories?

Kamishibai stories are a lot of fun and create the potential to work with artists and musicians. They appeal to both children and adults. Kamishibai stories work magic in places where English is not the first language and with children and adults with audio processing challenges.

Kamishibai resources

Here are two of my favourite books for learning about Kamishibai. You might also like to visit The International Kamishibai Association of Japan, Kamishibai for Kids and Tara McGowan. If you use Facebook there are several international groups including The World of Kamishibai and Kamishibai Connections. With fellow enthusiasts, I started up the AKA (Australian Kamishibai Association). We have a group where we discuss and share the nuts and bolts of this story form and an AKA public page.

Kamishibai is connected to comic book making and animation and in my enthusiasm to demonstrate this, I have created two comic books to compliment the story of Split Dog. I sell these for $2.00 each and envisage making my fortune!

Booking a Kamishibai story

Kamishibai works best with small audiences (up to 80). The pictures are A3 size. However if there is a digital projector available and the images can be projected, then audience numbers are no problem.

The bike

The bike can be used inside and out. For outside telling, a place away from the wind and rain and on level ground is all that’s needed.



Images: See Photos page for hi-resolution images