Exciting New Teaching Unit

“Yuki and Taro” – A Teaching Unit on the Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII using Kamishibai to teach about Civil Rights.

Sister and brother, Yuki and Taro, are growing up on a farm in Sebastopol, CA, when Japanese airplanes bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The ensuing fear prompts the government to send the siblings and their parents to an internment camp, one of ten that house 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry.

The story takes us through the packing of only what they can carry, leaving behind treasured animals and possessions, the train ride to an unknown destination, and the arrival at a barbed wire enclosed “camp”. Here they have to adjust to a new  way of life and figure out how to make the best of the situation that is forced upon them. After four years they return home to find that some things are the same, but many things are very different.


The Storytellers use Kamishibai, Japanese for Paper Theater, and 20 vibrant prints of paintings, created especially for the story, to convey the tale. Kamishibai is a unique way to interact with the audience. The storytellers bring a wooden briefcase (butai) that has doors that open to create a stage that frames the prints. The viewers gather in front of it and listen as the story unfolds. For larger crowds, a PowerPoint presentation is available.

Well thought out, suggested follow-up questions are included with the teaching unit, encouraging students to think about civil rights, to learn about this part of our country’s history and to learn about social justice. Role playing, hands-on cultural activities and a book list for different grade levels are also included for teachers to use at their discretion.

The Sonoma County chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League offers this storytelling presentation free of charge, funded by a grant from the National JACL and supported by the Sonoma County JACL.

Sonoma County teachers can request a Storyteller through the Speakers Bureau. If you have any questions, email: speaker@sonomacojacl.org. Please put “Kamishibai” in the subject.

Any JACL chapter can request the complete unit free of charge by contacting kamishibai@sonomacojacl.org