The Kamishibai is a small theatre box in which large prints (A3) can be inserted. On the back of these prints is a story that the kamishibai narrator reads or tells. With each new episode, the narrator slips a print out of the box, as s/he continues: image and language coincide perfectly. A kamishibai story is reminiscent of delayed animation. The kamishibai is a Japanese tradition (kami = paper, shibai = drama; paper dramas). For thirty years, from 1920 to 1950, this narrative technique was all the rage in Japan; it was the forerunner of the popular manga culture. For the past several years, this unique narrative form has made a global comeback.

“The feeling of diving into a story together, sharing, bringing it to life with the voice, I have always found very magical. In the Middle Ages it was obscene not to read aloud. Until the 12th century, you incriminated yourself if you did not whisper or form the words with your mouth while reading. Just reading for yourself, separate from others, that came later.”
(Cornelia Funke, author)

Kamishibai is part of an ancient visual storytelling tradition that originated during the 12th century in Buddhist temples in Japan. Monks there used picture scrolls to pass moralistic stories to a largely illiterate audience. The kamishibai narrative technique continued to exist for centuries and experienced dramatic success between the two world wars. At the time, kamishibai-tellers rode around on a bike with a small wooden theater mounted to the back. They installed themselves on a street corner or in a park and sold candy to the assembled audience. Children who bought something got the best places to follow the story. At the time, more than five million children and adults enjoyed the kamishibai almost daily. With the advent of television, mobile storytellers slowly disappeared from the streets. Only to resurface now and again…


ABC organises kamishibai stories on request. Cultural centers, schools, libraries and festivals can request a storyteller with a kamishibai-bike, a kamishibai nook and/or a nomadic tent.

350 euro (excl. 6% VAT) for up to four stories each lasting 30 minutes.
More info: or tel +32 2 502 00 27.


The ABC story collection has now built a very large assortment of different kamishibai stories. In total there are currently more than 200 stories, but the collection is continually growing. We transform existing picture books or commission artists and authors. Some of the offerings include: traditional Japanese stories, stories by contemporary authors/illustrators such as Gerda Dendooven, Bart Moeyaert and Jon Klassen, adaptations of timeless picture books, stories of Turkish and Moroccan origin, etc. A kamishibai story usually consists of about 10 to 16 A3 prints. Practical: You can consult the collection by appointment in the ABC-house. All the stories can be borrowed free of charge.

Story Collection for the kamishibai-package Here you can browse the collection of stories that ABC offers either individually or with the kamishibai-package. The prints are A3 sized and are created to use in the ABC kamishibai-theater, which has an opening on the left (from the perspective of the audience) to slide the prints in and out.

Place your order


Fancy a chance to work with a kamishibai in the classroom, the library or after-school care yourself? ABC has built a kamishibai package that consists of: a wooden case containing a theater, two stories (tailor made), a booklet full of ideas/tips for stimulating language use & for a fun retelling. The wooden box can be used immediately as a riser to place the theater on in order to be easily seen when telling the story. There are 16 stories to select from (see below). The kamishibai-booklet is a compilation of creative language activities: all sorts of suggestions to work with the kamishibai on improving reading skills and language fun, but also cultural history, arts education, drama, etc.

Place your order

Do-it-yourselfers will find here plans and tutorials to easily build their own Kamishibai kit.

Good luck!

DIY Kamishibai


We organise kamishibai workshops for teachers, librarians and others interested, in which we give all kinds of tips on how you can get started with this narrative form. Kamishibai is a wonderful instrument to use with children to stimulate language use and creative storytelling. Elements that are covered: the decoration of a kamishibai-nook, how to integrate the kamishibai into various classes, ideas for using picture books to create kamishibai, making your own kamishibai with children, etc.

Upon request, ABC-staff also give workshops in schools/youth workshops/libraries etc, for children from 6 years of age.

Kamishibai and creative storytelling
During this workshop, we will briefly dip into kamishibai. Then you discover 1001 possibilities and tools to invent and tell stories yourself: tangram, wooden animals, slides, rope, light, origami, collage, Lubok, hand dancing, toy figures, dice, handkerchiefs, finger puppets, and on and on…

The workshops last 3 hours – max. 20 people can participate per workshop. Price: 250 euro (excl. 21% VAT) per workshop – no specific requirements, a room with enough tables and chairs.

We also organise workshops in the ABC-house for which you can register individually.


The kamishibai-booklet:
This publication brings together a lot of ideas to work with the kamishibai in class or during your free time. Language fun & awareness are key: the kamishibai is a wonderful tool to work with children with language problems as well. This booklet can and wants to help inspire you!



A3 kamishibai theater tutorial
For the do-it-yourselfers: here you will find a guide to constructing your own kamishibai theater easily.

Good luck!



Mini kamishibai theater manual
You can also make a mini version of the kamishibai in a large matchbox. Download the pattern and craft your own theater. This mini-kamishibai can be used eg: as a ‘diary’ on a field trip to the forest or seaside. Each day the children make a picture + short text of what they did that day. They can tell their parents at home about their experiences based on the pictures.



  • The Many Faces of Kamishibai

  • Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai

  • Children in old Japan 1959 kamishibai

  • Kamishibai KFDA