Episode 401 – Worth a Thousand Words

This week, we’re tackling the history of kamishibai, a form of street theater that was once big business but has since faded into obscurity. Where did it come from, and why–after it was killed off by TV and movies–is it worth remembering today?


Yasuda, Tsuneo “The Pacific War and Kamishibai” and Taketoshi Yamamoto, “Printed Wartime Kamishibai” in Fanning the Flames: Propaganda in Modern Japan, ed. Kaoru Ueda.

This fantastic resource from the Japan Society by Dr. Tara McGowan on the history of kamishibai.

This article from The Conversation also includes a video of Dr. McGowan performing kamishibai for an audience.


Video of an utsushi-e performance. It’s pretty incredible!

A kamishibai performance. It’s an Ogon Bat performance, as you can tell from the art.
A closer look at the big bat himself.
A kamishibai performer at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. Despite the venue I’m pretty sure this is also an Ogon Bat performance.
A propaganda kamishibai (Shimizu Taemon Died at his Post)

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