Before we tell you how to get the most out of your Kamishibai, let's go back in time to find out where it comes from. Kamishibai is a japanese word that literally means "paper drama". It's a traditional way of storytelling and it was used first on Buddhist temples in the twelfth century. We have brought it to you so you can enjoy thousands of stories with the little ones.
This tradition was kept for centuries, but in the early 1900s came back again with great force. The "Gaito Kamishibaiya" (japanese for "Kamishibai storyteller") traveled from town to town with his bike and wooden theater to tell traditional stories to children. They bought him candy he offered to those who wanted to be closer to the theater, and this way he made a living.
Today, Kamishibai technique is used by both teachers and parents. But not just for fun. Kamishibai is a powerful tool when used in language learning or knowledge sharing. It's also a fantastic vehicle for ideas or cultural messages anywhere: large companies, public places, small venues...
Now that you know where it comes from, let us help you getting the most out of your Kamishibai. It's so easy to use that even the little ones can enjoy it all by themselves. The first thing you have to do is to get used with the butai (wooden theater). As you can see, it comes folded and it is as easy to carry as a briefcase thanks to its wooden handle. When we made it, we thought we had to keep the original look of wood (not plastic nor cardboard) so it will last for many years!
Start using your Kamishibai is very easy. Simply open its three doors and... presto! Your theater is ready for your Kamishibai performances!
We encourage you to get your little (or big) audience seated down the floor. Place the Kamishibai theater on a higher surface (like a table, for example). You'll get all their attention by doing so. Check out our full Kamishibai Stage in our online store to become the perfect Gaito Kamishibaiya!
The first thing you have to do is order all Kamishibai story cards from No. 1 to the last image in sequence: 01, 02, 03, etc ... and all illustrations on the same side.
The story cards are already sorted when you buy them, but we are not responsible for what the little ones can do when they play with them.
Make sure they are in order, if not ... you may tell a crazy story!
Once the story cards are sorted, put them into the inner groove of the butai (on the back), showing story card no. 01 (color illustration) to the audience.
To make it easy to place and manipulate, we made the cards with rounded corners and 300g coated paper, easy to clean and very durable.
(We've tried them with children and they are very resistant but not as much as to be used by pets).
Now, stand behind the butai and present yourself as the Gaito Kamishibaya of the room. The story begins reading the text in the back of the last story card, which corresponds to the image displayed at that time (story card no. 01, the beginning of the story).
Pay attention to the stage directions included, they will help you to enhance the story (now use a deep voice, now slide the story card slowly, etc).
Our Kamishibai stories have the text of each story in many language combinations. It's great to learn other languages!
Once you've read the text corresponding to the first story card, slide story card no. 01 to your right and place it on to of the story cards that are already in butai. That is, it should be the first one you see so you can read its text.
Continue doing so until you reach the end of the story. The text for this last story card is on the back of the penultimate one.
Surely you'll hear a "again, again" and you will have to repeat the process... as many times as it takes to get your audience calmed.
If you want an example of how to narrate a particular story, be sure to read our blog article "How to tell the Kamishibai story 'The Sun Cat' (with music)".