With support from Youth Theatre Northwest and the Seattle Japanese Garden, the East Asia Resource Center was pleased to present a special opportunity for teachers to watch a Kamishibai performance by the only full time Kamishibai Storyteller remaining in Japan, Tatsuo “Tachan” Kawakami. The performance was followed by an optional 90 minute workshop, aimed primarily for teachers of elementary grades.
What is Kamishibai?
Literal translation of the word, Kamishibai is “paper theatre.” It is a form of Japanese street theatre and storytelling that dates back to the 8th century, but was most popular among children during the Depression of the 1930s and the post-war period in Japan until TV came into play. Kamishibai was told by a kamishibaiya or kamishibai narrator who travelled to street corners with sets of illustrated boards that was placed in a miniature stage-like device on the back of his bicycle and narrated the story by changing each image. Kamishibai is considered a dying art, but there still are handful of Kamishibaiya in Japan. Japanese Anime, now popular in the United States and other parts of the world originated from Kamishibai.
About Tacchan: Tatsuo “Tacchan” Kawakami
Tacchan began his acting career in a local community theatre during his college years in Nagoya, Japan. After college, he joined a professional children’s theatre, Urinko and acted with them for 6 years. Tacchan then broke out on his own to do kamishibai in 2007, founded his own troupe Marguerite Family, performing for over 100,000 people. He performs across Japan at roughly 150 locations every year including schools, hospitals, community library, temple, retirement homes, private party, parks, malls, and amusement parks. He makes appearances on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines and is the winner of Japan Street Kamishibai Competition in Numazu for two consecutive years. He is the only full time Kamishibai Storyteller left in Japan.
This in-person program was offered on September 24 and October 1, 2022, at the Seattle Japanese Garden.
Kamishibai performance: 1pm to 2pm
Optional Kamishibai workshop 2:15pm to 3:45pm
The Kamishibai performance was open to educators of all grade levels. The optional workshop was geared towards, and was highly recommended for elementary school educators. Middle and high school teachers were welcome to register for the performance only if they choose but were welcome to attend the optional workshop as well.
This program was sponsored by the East Asia Resource Center at the University of Washington, and funded by a Freeman Foundation grant in support of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA).