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)

1 thought on “Episode 401 – Worth a Thousand Words”

  1. I was treated to a kamishibai performance of Ogon Bat at the Kyoto Manga Library. Unfortunately, the story was never finished! But it was great to see the history.
    There’s an anime series called Yamishibai that’s a horror anthology series of Japanese urban legends using a kamishibai art-style. The host is some kind of demon/ghost/eldritch abomination (it’s never explained, except that he used to be human) kamishibai performer who tells the stories through his kamishibai, which inevitably results in any viewer’s death.

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