Have you discovered Kamishibai's universe and you've been fascinated by it, but haven't you decided to get one? Make sure you don't have any of these 11 symptoms. Careful, they're contagious.
“How beautiful!” “I love the illustrations.” “It's a piece of cake.” “Very original.” “Sure, it had to be Japanese!”
If you have seen a Kamishibai in action (or Instagram) and you have thought through any of these phrases, be careful. You are already infected, now your whole being is going to rebel against you to get as far away from it as possible, with all kinds of tricks. Welcome to the 11 typical excuses for not touching a Kamishibai with a barge-pole.
If this categorical statement has taken control of your mind and is removing from your memory all that you have lived when you saw a Kamishibai, we are so sorry. You are infected!
Of course, Kamishibai cannot compete with moving images, but neither does it pretend to. If we throw Kamishibai and YouTube in the same bag, we haven't really understood anything.
YouTube is a platform that can contain a lot of interesting material for children. Here's a good example. And it can also contain a lot of material as stinky as a pile of manure. No, we are not going to give examples of those out of respect for your mental health. Truth is, there's no point. After all, it's always the same videos. They never change, no matter how many times we watch them.
A Kamishibai narration is unique. The illustrations may always be the same (just if we want to), but the way we tell the story is unrepeatable. Most of its value lies in there: even if your audience asks you to tell it again, you will never be able to do it exactly the same way.
Reflect on this: a child watching YouTube may want to become a YouTuber. Making that happen can be complicated, it takes means and resources. A child who listens to a Kamishibai story is very likely to want to become a storyteller. Is that possible? That only depends on whether you let him or not: he doesn't even need to know how to read to be one: the image is on the backside of the theater!
Yeah, but kids just want to watch videos on YouTube. Are you sure? Introduce them to Kamishibai with a bit of ceremony and go ahead and tell them a story with eye-catching illustrations. And then ask them if what they want to see is the umpteenth video of kittens falling off a shelf or that you tell again “Mr. Nimbo and the Cloud Machine”. Tell us all about it!
Wouldn't it be great if you could put some kind of "filter" for everything that comes into your house, specially when it's for the little ones? One doesn't know very well how to react when someone shows up at one's house with one of these horrible types of toys you should never give to kids, but there they are. Those "things". And the worst thing is that if you throw them away, you're going to get all sorts of warnings and disappointments (maybe not from your kids, but from the proud curator of their purchase).
Well, we would agree with you if it wasn't because... you're infected! Kamishibai is not exactly an educational toy, nor a book. It's all that and much more. We enjoy defining it as "the tale Thermomixer", because the most fascinating stories can be easily cooked in it.
Very few toys have infinite possibilities, and very few books can stop being books (it doesn't count when used as a sofa stand). Inside a Kamishibai fits everything your imagination can conceive. From stories already created with wonderful illustrations, to your very own. You can choose the ingredients yourself and customise the dishes to your guests' taste. It's the ultimate expression of DIY!
You can see it clearly: Kamishibai would seem wonderful to you if it weren't for the "little" detail that, after all, is about speaking in public. Not only that: it's about telling a story in public, a story that you haven't even made up yourself. Come on, you'll say, if I'm not good enough to tell a joke, just imagine a story... Alarm! You're infected!
You don't need any special talent to use a Kamishibai. You don't have to be an actress or a professional storyteller. You just have to know how to read and dare to be yourself. From there, a whole universe of possibilities opens up. You can improvise parts of the story, add music, wear costumes, take care of the lighting, create a new ending... or read the story as it is. The most important thing is that you make the story yours. Remember that “the story is not the story, the story is the one who tells it”.
When you tell a joke, or something that has happened to someone, you don't usually have more resources than your voice and your gestures. When you read a good night children's book, you usually do it by holding it with your hands. When you use Kamishibai, you are opening wide a window to the imagination: your audience sees what you are telling, your hands are completely free and you create a distance between the storyteller and the listener. Even if it looks like you're “just reading unfunny,” you're actually multiplying the immersion.
I try my best. I go with them to cool children's bookstores and let them choose the books that most attract their attention. Every night I work hard to get them to read a little bit. Pointless. In the end, they get bored stiff and ask me if they can play a game on the iPad. I think that by "not reading", we mean that they don't even read the name of the app they're playing!
Reading laziness has taken over your whole family. There's no turning back now. A Kamishibai would only make the situation worse. Oh yeah... you are infected!
If you think that Kamishibai is just an illustrated album in cards, you are seeing the glass half empty. It has been used for many decades to promote reading in many countries, with great success. Do you know which is one of the factors that makes it successful, much more than reading with a book in your hand? It's as simple as nobody sees that the storyteller is reading it. Even if you've explained your audience very clearly how Kamishibai works, as soon as you open the doors of the theater all your audience stops seeing it as a reading. And a very special bond begins to develop between the storyteller, the audience and the story itself.
When you use Kamishibai, you don't need to force them to read: you can be sure that they will want to become storytellers, swipe the story cards, confront an audience... If they can read, they will immediately begin to narrate the text. But even if they still don't know how to read well, they can make up the story: from the back of the theater they are always seeing the image that their audience is seeing. In other words, you're giving them a lot of motivation to read and enjoy reading.
What's a Kamishibai theater? A wooden little frame where you put images, right? Well, I can make that myself, and I'm very crafty. And if I find it difficult, I'm sure there are hundreds of tutorials on YouTube. Or I can talk to my friend Danielle, who is a cabinetmaker. She'll give me a hand. And I'll save some money by the way!
Well, we're so sorry, but... you're infected!
We understand that perfectly. The handcrafted aspect that a wooden butai exhales is deceptive (let's not talk about the cardboard ones, they don't capture a third of the attention that the wooden ones do: they move, they close, they fall and they break we you get to the story card #3).
Yeah, a butai looks easy to make. Yes, you have a great tutorial on how to build a Kamishibai Theater here. No, it's going to take a lot longer than you think. No, don't think it's going to be cheap (and you problably are not including the hours spent in the making and traveling).
Yeah, but I'll do it myself, I don't care. All right, the only thing we wish you (apart from good luck) is that the process does not take you away from your ultimate goal: to make use of the Kamishibai. Keep the frustration threshold very high so as not to suffer from baker's syndrome: the more cakes he makes, the more he hates candy.
Oh, this life of mine, I only have time for what is urgent and I keep the important things in a drawer to open it once in a while. I used to have time for everything, but now...
If the ghost of the White Rabbit of Alice has taken over your life and makes you think that Kamishibai is a wonder, but also a wonderful time-consuming mess... you are infected!
Don't worry, we' re not going to add any more stress by telling you how to reduce stress. We just want to tell you that most of us are in the same situation, with little time. We believe that since the advent of smart devices with internet access, a fierce battle has been fought for the conquest of our time. Everyone wants it, from the busiest social networks to the newest streaming services. "Pay me with your time! After all, I'm for free (or very cheap)...". If we throw Kamishibai in the same bag, then we really got tangled up.
Kamishibai is an absolutely social technique, so it may seem complicated at first glance. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's true that it can be as complicated as you want, but, in essence, it's very simple: you just need someone to stop and listen. The duration of stories in their most basic form is between 5 and 10 minutes. The simplest preparation takes no more than a minute. And the reward is very valuable: fun, self-esteem, social skills... No, no scientific study supports this statement, but we love to believe it: a five-minute Kamishibai story with your children is socially equivalent to three hours of activity on Instagram.
“Those are lovely tablemats!”, we hear from time to time when someone sees Kamishibai story cards outside the butai.
“Well, this was already invented with language flashcards,” they tell us when we explain the technique with the story cards in our hands and without using the theater.
“But each card is a story?”, we are asked in confusion when seeing loose story cards.
Actually, there's no need of that wooden artifact to tell stories, whether they're Kamishibai or not. By holding the story "sheets" with my very own hands, the effect is the same. Oh yeah, I've seen it on YouTube.
If you believe that nature has blessed you with an overwhelming charisma, so much that you have the power to grab the attention of even the most absent-minded spectator, so much so that even with your face behind a handful of sheets your audience learns something... caution... you are infected!
If you are already a regular on our blog, you will know how much we detest "dogmatizing" about Kamishibai. As of today, no one has enough scientific authority to narrow down the technique to a set of rules that determine who does Kamishibai in this world and who does not, let alone if they are based only on traditionalisms or personal experiences. Kamishibai is you, a story in cards and your audience.
That's what I said, I don't need that wooden contraption. Well, it's not that you don't need it, but rather that what you're going to achieve without it isn't even half as productive. It's going to cost you an awful lot to prepare your audience for listening. You're going to need more than your own voice to get that sense of mystery and magic that comes with the theater. And if, on top of that, you are using sheets of paper instead of cards of the appropriate thickness... your storytelling is going to degrade from " wonderful" to "wonderless". And, believe it or not, this greatly influences everything you want to achieve by telling a story (even if the purpose is just to entertain).
Without using the theater, your Kamishibai story will be a precious showcase of... tablemats.
Apparently someone approached Voltaire and said, “Life is hard.” To which he replied: “Compared to what?”.
- According to my experience (or better yet, to the good taste I have), anything that strongly catches my eye costs a fortune. I find Kamishibai amazing, so it has to be very expensive.
Say what? You actually thought something like that? Oh, dear... you are infected!
- Nope, I'm sorry to tell you, but I'm not infected this time. I think it's quite expensive for what it has to offer.
If it were made in China, if those who cut the wood and engrave the Japanese letters on the door were not colleagues, if we hadn't undergone a thousand and one storytellings to find a balance between quality, ease of use and durability...
- Should I give you excuse 5 again, "I'll do it myself, I'm very crafty"? It's still very expensive.
Okay, let's set aside the sales arguments. The theater should speak for itself (although the ones that actually do so are all the gaitos kamishibaiyas who use our Kamishibai Theater).
- Let's get to the point.
Well, maybe you shouldn't see Kamishibai as if it were a children's book, it has many more possibilities. Maybe what you need is to find the theater that's right for you, both in terms of needs and budget. If you clearly see that you are going to use it at home, for example to tell goodnight stories like never before, or to have a whole range of activities that never crossed your mind before, from only 32,95€ you can get a Kamishibai FAMILY Theater (MINI A4)...
- I still find it expensive.
I don't want to Voltaire you, but... compared to what?
Indeed, as soon as you saw a Kamishibai you thought it would be one of the most original gifts you've ever made in recent history. Problem is... it's not the season for gifts yet!
This symptom often comes hand-in-hand with #2, "we already have enough toys at home", generating a scenario that seems to have a complicated solution. What if I become that hated person who fills their house with junk that they never use? Maybe they'll appreciate it more at Christmas, but, wait a sec, they don't even know what it is, how are they going to appreciate it? And besides, if they haven't asked for it, they'll probably be disappointed.
Shall you tell yourself that or shall we? All right, you're infected!
Over the years, we have seen very different reactions from those to whom we first discovered the Kamishibai technique. Like you, many see it as a great and original gift. And the truth is that it really is. But we also invite you to measure the temperature of that idea: if it's not too high and the person who is going to receive the gift doesn't even know what it is, we recommend that you change the gift. Not even for Christmas.
When someone has never heard of Kamishibai, they don't need wonderful explanations: they need to live it. You will have to perform a demonstration if you don't want to hear some fake truth ("aha, what an interesting gift, thank you very much"). And if you are planning to do a demonstration, we recommend you to be very motivated to do it. So if the thermometer bursts at the thought of giving away a Kamishibai, you don't need to postpone it for Christmas. It will always be a success!
Look around you. Would you be able to count with your fingers of one hand all those things you haven't used for more than three months? Those that when they came into your life were likely to transform it completely, but then became magically invisible objects.
What? You're short on fingers? You're infected!
Indeed, it is something that can happen even to the most special of the Kamishibai: falling into the most absolute of oblivions. After the initial enthusiasm, that magical day where everyone was like crazy around the theater telling stories, it's time to put it away. Ok! Back to its box and back to the closet. And there it stayed forever. Hey, do you think it comes to life at night, when no one sees it? ;)
Here are some strategies to prevent this from happening:
“Today there's plenty of things for kids. I wish I were one once again!”
“They'd just love Kamishibai... if only they weren't already ten years old.”.
Two comments we hear often. If you think that Kamishibai is just meant to tell stories to the little ones... you are infected!
We'll detail very different ways to use Kamishibai in a future article. It's not just a fantastic tool to tell children's stories, it's an expanding universe that feeds on your ideas and your imagination. That's why it's not suitable for any particular age: that' s only up to you to determine it.
Well, enough with excuses! What are the reasons you would indeed touch a Kamishibai? Leave us a comment below, we look forward to hearing them! And if you've found some value in this article don't forget to share it and Like it: that keeps us very motivated to continue exploring this full of possibilities technique.
See you in our next article!