Yuta Sasaki used his iPad to take photos of the children who had gathered to watch him perform kamishibai, a traditional form of storytelling using picture cards. With special software, he quickly fused the kids' photos with premade cartoon images, and when the show began the children's eyes lit up as they realized they were actually part of the adventure tale.
Rather than using a stack of physical picture cards, Sasaki, 29, displays the images needed for his stories on the iPad tablet's touch screen.
Sasaki, who also works as a producer of anime programs for TV and the Internet, began studying the art of kamishibai in 2006 under the late Masao Morishita, who performed in Tokyo to great acclaim for more than 50 years before his death in 2008.
The pair had vowed to revive kamishibai performances as a feature of everyday life. Determined to honor the promise he made with his mentor, Sasaki searched for new styles of storytelling that would appeal to the current generation of children.
He developed the kamishibai iPad software himself, and has made it available for download free of charge. It comes complete with a number of picture card sets, thanks to the cooperation of the images' copyright holders. His motivation is simply to make it easy for anybody with an iPad to perform kamishibai shows. "I want as many people as possible to know how wonderful kamishibai is," Sasaki said.
Since last autumn, Sasaki has been performing occasional kamishibai shows with his iPad in a park near his home in Kunitachi, Tokyo.
Children who are more accustomed to watching TV and playing video games are excited to enjoy the traditional artform.
"Though times have changed, the attraction [of kamishibai] remains," Sasaki said, adding that he is certain there will be a full-scale kamishibai revival.
Glad that a traditional storytelling can embrace new technology and continue to exist in this modern age. I hope I can see one, one day ^^