What is Kamishibai?
Before showing you how to get the most out of your Kamishibai KIDS theatre, we are going to travel many years back in time, to tell you where it comes from. Kamishibai is a Japanese word meaning "paper drama".
It is a traditional way of telling stories in public through images, and has its origins in the Buddhist temples of Japan in the 12th century. In the early twentieth century it was perfected with the "Gaito Kamishibaiya" (meaning something like "the Kamishibai storyteller"), who traveled through the villages of Japan with his bicycle and a larger wooden kamishibai to tell all kinds of stories to children. In exchange, the children would buy him the sweets he was carrying, and he would earn a living.
The KIDS version is designed so that children can also become Gaitos Kamishibaiya (even if they can't read well yet) and feel the magic created by bringing the whole family together through a simple story.
How do I use my Kamishibai KIDS?
The first question to ask ourselves is: Can they read fluently? If not, organize a Kamishibai session where you tell them the story you would like them to narrate. They may even ask you to do it several times. They will know when they have understood it perfectly and when they need to hear it again.
Next, whoever is going to be a narrator should become familiar with the butai (wooden theatre). Touch it, open it, close its doors, look for a good place to put it...
You ready? Then let's allow our friend PIMPO to teach us how to use it.
Put the Kamishibai story cards in order: 01, 02, 03, etc... and with all the illustrations facing the same side.
If you have just unpacked the story, they should come in order. But if not, surely "magically" someone has messed them up (KUMA, was it you?).
Check several times that they are in fact in order, otherwise the story will be absurd.
Story cards in order? Now you have to place them all at once inside the closed Kamishibai theatre, so that you have card 01 (with the color illustration) facing the doors.
It’s best if your hands are clean, but if the cards get dirty don't worry, they are very easy to clean. Although it might not be a good idea to let your cat use them as sleeping mats.
Set the theater on a slightly elevated surface (such as a small table) and sit your audience on the floor in front of the theater.
Stand behind the Kamishibai theater and make up a Gaito Kamishibaiya name ("Melissa-san the oldest storyteller in the house" or "Magic Andy and his magical stories"). Introduce yourself and say that you have a very special story that you hope everyone will like equally.
Open the theater in a magical way and start telling your story by reading the text on the back of the theater. If you still don't have good reading fluency, it's best to tell it in your own words. Remember that you will always be looking from behind at the image your audience is seeing from the front. That makes it a lot easier to improvise, doesn't it?
When you get to the end of the text on story card 01, pull it out to the right (or left) and place it on the back. You should have the text of story card 02 in view.
Keep telling and pulliing story cards until you reach the end of the last card. Then, close the theater magically with a "And so it ends (use the name of the story) for Kamishibai.”
Surely you will hear a "bravo, bravo" and a lot of applause. Then you can bow with pride, because you made everyone feel united through a simple story.