Thursday, June 9, 2011

Storytelling that Heals

Hatsuo Yatsuo, right, presents a
picture-based story to children at a
gymnasium in Azuma Sports Park
in Fukushima on May 29. (Mainichi)

Back in May I mentioned a story about a Japanese man who was bringing a traditional form of storytelling to refugees of the March tsunami. His aim was to help them find healing in the humor of rakugo. Last week I saw this story about another refugee who lost his wife that terrible day. She used to perform for children a different form of Japanese storytelling called kamishibai, or storytelling with picture cards—something that reminds me of our Western flannel-board tales. He has taken up her mantle, gathering children around him to tell the stories she used to tell. What continues to impress me are the ways in which storytelling as a cultural form or as a deeply personal ritual has profound healing power. Perhaps the phenomenon is universal, and not only Japanese.

No comments: