Early 1960s

Tokyo children watching a performance of “picture drama” (kamishibai)

Tokyo Children watching a performance of "picture drama"

While now regarded as a “traditional” entertainment for children in Japan, storytelling with illustrated picture cards actually dates only to the early 20th century.  During the Greater East Asia War of 1937-1945, it was utilized by the Japanese government to inculcate children with national pride and to encourage an ethos of self-sacrifice.  After 1945, the US occupation forces banned stories of wartime heroism and encouraged the production of new stories that promoted democratic values.  In the mid-60s with the emergence of television the popularity of picture drama performances declined rapidly.

To learn more see: Sharalyn Orbaugh, “How The Pendulum Swings: Kamishibai and Censorship under the Allied Occupation,” in Censorship, Media and Literary Culture in Japan: From Edo to Postwar, Tomi Suzuki, Hirokazu Toeda, Hikari Hori and Kazushige Munakata, eds. (Tokyo: Shin’yôsha, 2012), 161-174.

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