Stories for Peace
On Monday, December 7, 2020, just before 8:00 in the morning, it will be my honor and joy to share an episode of Storytime Yoga® Kamishibai for Peace on the Storytime Yoga YouTube. I am retelling the Inuit folktale Raven Brings the Light about the winter solstice. It’s my offering for World Kamishibai Day, a day when people all over the world tell kamishibai stories for peace.
As a guest of the International Kamishibai Association of Japan, I was honored to participate in the first World Kamishibai Day on December 7, 2018 in Tokyo. I told Eiko Matsui’s kamishibai Never Again, about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“Japan started the war,” the story acknowledges.
December 7 is known as Pearl Harbor Day in the United States when the Japanese bombed the naval base in 1941 and the US entered World War II. 2335 U.S. servicemen and 68 civilians lost their lives, my Uncle Charlie went to the Pacific to fight, my Dutch grandfather died a POW outside Tokyo in 1943, and my father was a child survivor of a Japanese concentration camp on Java, Dutch East Indies, two of those years separated from his mother and two sisters.
In Tokyo, Eiko-san, whose dissident grandfather and mother as a child suffered during the war, said the date of December 7 was chosen because in Japan, the day the war started was December 8, because the country’s time is a day ahead of the U.S. By telling kamishibai for peace the day before the war starts, it symbolically gives us the peaceful day and a time before the war. A time when there was no war. A time when there was only peace. I chose this year’s video to be released before 8:00 am on December 7 because it’s still December 7 in Japan and also the peaceful time just before the attack.
In Tokyo, I had said that we can’t change history, but each country can examine its actions, and we can examine our own actions in everyday life. Each of us can act for peace to end war and never use atomic bombs again. We can make peace with our former enemies, and work to spread to the world and preserve Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution that guarantees people’s right to peace. The U.S. put it there with the Japanese people at the end of the war. We all need to act to make sure it remains, by calling our representatives and getting involved, for our children’s sake. Japan is an example of peace for the world. But not unless people act, something urgently needed in the world today.
Because of my family’s contentious past with Japan, I never, ever imagined living in Japan. I had created this kamishibai retelling Raven Brings the Light with illustrations by Hungarian Artist Andras Balog for the Storytime Yoga® Kids’ Club ebook. As fate would have it, I did go to Japan, for three years. I’m grateful to have deepened my knowledge of this wonderful art form of telling stories with pictures and gotten to know the peaceful people of Japan.
Storytime Yoga® Kamishibai For Peace
I first learned the technique of pointing to pictures to tell a story as a member of Spellbinders in Colorado. Volunteering to tell stories in public schools. It’s similar to the Cuna Indians of Panama and Huichol Indians of Mexico. East Indians use scroll paintings to tell a story by pointing to the picture.
A follow up activity is to have children draw a favorite scene that they saw in their heads during the telling. Then the children can retell the story based on their picture. Telling stories is a great way to connect to family and others safely in these difficult Covid times. It also helps kids to cope, and promotes general well-being, literacy and libraries.
I hope you tell stories and teach yoga to children. I hope you seek out others’ kamishibai stories on December 7. I hope you work for peace.
Let’s make peace, for the children!
Namaste and have a magical day!
Other Kamishibai Tellings on December 7 in the US.
Erica Siskin, Oakland Public Library
Open Book Publishing has a wonderful Kamishibai for peace called The Dog and Cat Fable.