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What is Kamishibai

Kamishibai is a form of Storytelling from Japan, using a paper stage. Read below for more details.

WLF Photo_

How to Kamishibai

All you need is a Kamishibai stage and Stories in the form of Illustrations.

Kids in Preschool

Why Kamishibai

It's engaging. It's a fun way to tell stories for the audience and the storyteller. It's an effective tool to foster early literacy. It's fun for young and old.


My Kamishibai

Kamishibai stories for sale by Wolf Publishing. More details here.

"Sally the Sea Turtle"


"The Tiger Who Loved to Sing"

What is Kamishibai?

What is Kamishibai

Kamishibai is a form of Storytelling from Japan. Tara McGowan from Kamishibai for Kids explains: Kamishibai, (kah-mee-she-bye) or “paper-theater,” is said to have started in Japan in the late 1920s, but it is part of a long tradition of picture storytelling, beginning as early as the 9th or 10th centuries when priests used illustrated scrolls combined with narration to convey Buddhist doctrine to lay audiences. You can find more historical information here.


This form of storytelling is wonderful for all ages, and particularly effective with young children who need visual anchors as they are yet to establish vocabulary and associations between the meaning of words and visual imagery. Unlike reading a picture book - which of course is a wonderful thing to share with a child - Kamishibai storytelling renders a different experience. The Kamishibai storyteller faces the crowd front-on, henceforth the physical story in the form of illustrations becomes an extension of the teller, rather than being the object [the book] in-between the storyteller and the listener.  The Kamishibai storyteller not only tells but rather performs a story by incorporating intonation, gestures and often asks the audience to interact and participate.

Doshinsha, one of the biggest Kamishibai publishers in Japan mention on their website: "Kamishibai is full of happiness; a resonant feeling or kyokan is shared among all the audience during the performance. The word kyokan refers to people confirming the meaning of life together through sharing the same feeling about something. Creating kyokan is the most important and essential aspect of kamishibai." Japanese primate researcher Kawai Masao (in Sy Montgomery's Walking with the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Biruté Galdikas) described the feeling of kyokan (loosely translated as 'feel-one') as being necessary for proper science and discovering the truth. In other words, when relating this to storytelling, the deepest connections and learning is achieved when storyteller, story and story listener fuse together in a common experience.

Kamishibai Storytelling is enjoying a revival all around the world. Below you can find more information.

  • Click here for a video by Jean-François Chéniery's video "Storytelling: Lessons from kamishibai".

  • Click here for an article in The Conversation entitled "Kamishibai: how the magical art of Japanese storytelling is being revived and promoting bilingualism" by Géraldine D Enjelvin.

  • Click here for a great Belgian website on Kamishibai "ABC  Kamishibai".

  • Click here for a critical review of Tara McGowan's book Performing Kamishibai: An Emerging New Literacy for a Global Audience; the review mentions the benefits of Kamishibai for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • Click here for Storyteller and Kamishibai researcher Tara McGowan's publications.

WP K stories

Kamishibai Stories

The Tiger Who Loved to Sing


"I love to sing. Better than anything. Roar. Roar. Rooooaaaarrrr!!!"

A wonderful story about resilience, perseverence and staying true to yourself.

The Tiger desperately wants to find someone to sing to, but ends up just scaring everyone with his roaring song. Eventually a Farmer decides to keep him as Tiger helps him scare away the seed-steeling birds.

3+ years

Written by Montgomery Kelly

Illustrated by Frothy Betty

Adapted for Kamishibai by Daniela Bücheler-Scott

Sally the Sea Turtle


"I couldn't do anything as great as you, Ant. I just don't think I've got it in me."

A wonderful story about overcoming fears, believing in yourself and beauty.

Sally yearns to join her brothers and sisters in the sea, but is too afraid to take the plunge after overhearing a couple of gossipping crabs. Eventually an ant helps her realise her potential after seeing what she is capable of without her even knowing.

Written by Daniela Bücheler-Scott

Illustrated by Frothy Betty

3+ years

2018 Williamstown Literary Festival

Wolf Publishing performed "Sally the Sea Turtle" at the 2018 Willy Lit Fest at "Kamishibai Stories for Kids", assisted with a Kamishibai workshop for children and was part of a Kamishibai story display.


Testimonial by Maria Haughey from Willy Lit Fest, who introduced Kamishibai Stories for Kids :

"Kamishibai- I'd no idea what it meant but I should have. Call myself a storyteller? I had no idea. Until I found myself at the back of a library on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon, surrounded by small people. Enthralled by little wooden boxes with story boards within. And the voices of storytellers who weaved tales of wonder. It was beautiful. And wondrous. And delightful."


Kamishibai storytellers. LtoR: Anna Manuel, Daniela Bücheler-Scott, Sarah Depasquale, Jackie Kerin and WLF's Loraine Callow. Photo: Willy Lit Fest


Kamishibai exhibition by AKA.

Photo: Willy Lit Fest


Kamishibai exhibition by AKA. LtoR: Daniela Bücheler-Scott, photographer Anthony Cheung from, Tetsuta Wanabe. Photo: Willy Lit Fest


Performing "Sally the Sea Turtle" 

Photo: Debra Winfield


Performing "Sally the Sea Turtle" 

Photo: Debra Winfield


Performing "Sally the Sea Turtle" 


My Kamishibai Stage


Please contact Wolf Publishing if you would like to know more about Kamishibai Storytelling, would like to purchase a Kamishibai story or wish to book Wolf Publishing to perform a Kamishibai story at your Kindergarten, School or Community event.

Ph: 0409 898 054 or email:

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