Kamishibai, an art of Japanese storytelling, was told on the streets of
Japan from 1920-1950. A man would come to a town or neighborhood on his
bicycle, which had a small theater on wheels attached to it. The man
would have two hard wooden sticks that he would hit together as a sign
to the children that he was in town. The storyteller showed large
pictures through the stage to tell his story.
The storyteller would tell two to three
stories, but stop telling the story at exciting parts. He
wanted the kids to come back and see him the next time he was in town.
When television was invented in 1953, the children stayed inside to
watch their TVs. The storyteller then went into schools,
libraries, and culture centers to tell his stories.
The tea ceremony, like many other rituals in Japan, did not originate in
Japan. The tea ceremony originated in China. Some Chinese monks, who were
like many Buddhists, introduced the ceremony to the Japanese. The first
tea ceremony was in honor of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism.
nine years of meditation, he became drowsy, and he was so angry that he
ripped out his eyelashes. Legend tells that where his eyelashes landed, the first tea
The lord and the samurai would take a cup of tea and share it. The lord, of course, took
the first sip and passed it around to the other samurai.
When drinking the
tea, there are four basic principles you are practicing. They are wa (harmony),
kei (respect), sei
(purity), and jaku
is a form of puppet theater in Japan. Each puppet has three
puppeteers who stand behind a wall with the puppets feet
hanging over. The omazukai is the person who controls the
puppets right arm, right hand, and the puppets expressions.
The hidrizukai is the person who controls the left hand and arm.
He is also in control of any props that the puppet is holding.
The ashizukai is the person who controls the puppets legs.
The puppeteers wear black kimono and hoods (the omazukai
doesnt wear a hood). The puppets consist of many parts,
the rashira or head, the
kataita or shoulders, the
do or torso
area, and the te-ashi or legs and arms. Cords are used to
make the puppets move. Female puppets dont have feet,
they glide across the floor.
is a traditional form of theater in Japan. Izumo-no-Okuni
and her group in Kyoto, Japan first performed it in the 17th
century. A Kabuki stage has tons of neat functions. It
has a trap door called a seri. It also has a revolving stage
used to change scenes. It even has a special place for the
musicians that pull them back behind the stage when they are done
playing. Certain characters can be found just by looking at
their face paint. People with red face paint are heroes and
people with black face paint are villains or bad guys. Kabuki
has all women parts. Many men called onnagota
play women parts.
is the oldest form of theater in Japan. It is a masked play.
It was, at its earliest times, performed for the Samurai warriors.
There are five types of Noh plays. All five types were
traditionally held on one occasion. Today only one play is
held at a time. The first type of play is kami or god
play that is about stories of the Shinto shrine. The "shara mono" or fighting play is about warriors. The
kazura mono and the kyojo mono both have a woman as the
main character, but in the kyojo mono the main character goes
insane. The gendai mono is about present and realistic
events. The kiri
is about devils and supernatural
beasts. There are four instruments that play music for Noh plays. They are the
or flute, the
kotsuzumi or small hand drum, the otsuzumi or large
hand drum, and the taiko or large drum.
has been in Japan since about 700a.d. The first book with poetry
in Japan was the Kojiki, written in 712a.d. The very first form of
Japanese poetry is the tanka. The tanka had 31 syllables and was
arranged into five lines. The first and third lines have five
syllables in tanka. The second, fourth, and fifth lines have seven
syllables each. Tanka was the only form of poetry up until the 16th
century. In the 16th century a poet named Bagho
Haiku was a type of poetry with three lines. In Haiku the first
line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the
third line has five syllables. Then Haiku developed into Renga. Renga
was the same as tanka, except that one poet would write the first three
lines and a second poet would type the last two lines.
Listen to the Kamishibai
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