Kamishibai and MILK Senbei?

Readers! Can you help?

I received a comment/question from Roberto, who is a storyteller venturing into kamishibai, a type of Japanese storytelling. He is looking for information about the candies or snacks the storyteller would sell before the story, especially “MILK Senbei.” Please leave a comment or contact me (see my sidebar) if you have any information!

From Roberto:
for my new Kamishibai street show, I ‘d like to offer to kids some traditional “MILK Senbei” ( they were the traditional sweets sold by Japanese Kamishibayia street storytellers prior show) for which I am not able to find out an original recipe. Maybe I have just to add some milk to usual senbei recipe, I guess, but is it enough? Or shd I add some more sweet ingredients??? After hours of searching, still not able to find on web how to cook MILK senbei. Thanks in advance for kind help…
Roberto – Italian street Storyteller

And for those of us who didn’t know anything about kamishibai Wikipedia is informative:

Kamishibai (紙芝居), literally “paper drama”, is a form of storytelling that originated in Japanese Buddhist temples in the 12th century, where monks used e-maki (picture scrolls) to convey stories with moral lessons to a mostly illiterate audience. It endured as a storytelling method for centuries, but is perhaps best known for its revival in the 1920s through the 1950s. The gaito kamishibaiya, or kamishibai storyteller, rode from village to village on a bicycle equipped with a small stage. On arrival, the storyteller used two wooden clappers, called hyoshigi, to announce his arrival. Children who bought candy from the storyteller got the best seats in front of the stage. Once an audience assembled, the storyteller told several stories using a set of illustrated boards, inserted into the stage and withdrawn one by one as the story was told. The stories were often serials and new episodes were told on each visit to the village.
The revival of kamishibai can be tied to the global depression of the late 1920s when it offered a means by which an unemployed man could earn a small income. The tradition was largely supplanted by the advent of television in the late 1950s but has recently enjoyed a revival in Japanese libraries and elementary schools. Some Americans have translated traditional kamishibai into English and offer them as part of a “Balanced Literacy” teaching philosophy.

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5 thoughts on “Kamishibai and MILK Senbei?

  1. I can’t help a bit, but what a fascinating bit of lore. I had no idea there was this tradition. In Ireland, storytellers are called seanachies and there have been Official Seanachies. I heard one once and it was almost mesmerizing.

  2. Milk senbei: a thin wafer-like senbei spread with sweetened condensed milk, topped with another senbei and made into a sandwich. Another kind is “sauce senbei” (using the Worchestershire-like sauce used for okonimiyaki and the like), with variations including ume jam, and chocolate syrup. It’s still very popular with kids, sold at festivals and dagashiya (candy and snack stores).

    Here is how it’s done (in Japanese, but the pictures are self-explanatory): http://cookpad.com/recipe/320135

    Often at festivals kids, after paying, get to play a game (usually a simple pachinko or pinball-like game) or draw straws to determine how many senbei they get. If they win more than two, the senbei are stacked up and the appropriate amount of condensed milk is dolloped on top, and kids are free to eat the senbei as they please (by dipping each senbei in the milk and eating them one by one, by making a bunch of individual sandwiches, or by making one big multi-layered sandwich). So in the recipe above disposable chopsticks are numbered to let kids do the lottery thing at home.

    Note that in Japan sweetened condensed milk comes in a squeeze tube, which makes it easy to spread on the senbei.

    • Amy~

      Thanks so much! It’s not anything like I thought it would be.

      I just read “Runaway” by Alice Munro where one of her characters eats cereal for breakfast, not with milk but with maple syrup. Also something I would never have thought of. ;-)

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