Magical Lantern -Utsushi- e 写し絵

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Japanese culture and creation of anime is one of the aspects that people across the world love about Japan. 

Over 200 years ago Utsushi-e  写し絵   a form of animation or theater which  is created using glass slides placed in front of a crude candle projector. Back then this was entertainment and storytelling but with images being projected. People during the Edo-jidai period from (1603-1867) welcomed this as a form of entertainment. 



Itsushi-e merged traditional Japanese story telling along with music, which many say is similar to Kabuki, which is a form of storytelling but with dance and drama. They told stories of love & noble Samurai .

How it worked





“Itsushi-e was very popular in the 19th century was very popular in the Kansai, Osaka and Kyoto region”.
 Although it was very popular then, today some only know about it due to studying the history in school.

“It was just a popular entertainment for ordinary people, little record remained. Slides and wooden lanterns were mostly lost by the great earthquake (1923) and the war. Once so popular Utsushi-e quickly became forgotten.”




During this year’s  10th Hyper Japan in London , after over 200 years Utsushi-e was introduced to the UK performed by the Minwaza Company of Tokyo, who is currently trying to revive the old works to modern Tokyo.

This allowed lovers of Japanese culture to truly appreciate the history and traditions of Japan pre- cinema times.  It shows how far they have come from the Utsushi-e to the modern animation from the anime to the studio Ghibli that we all love.

Below are links to some of the stories  that were shown during Hyper Japan.

The oldest Animation Technique.


After watching these I got to truly appreciate the efforts and the time it takes to create great animation and tell a great story. It’s amazing how they could use the magical lantern to create stories to inspire just like how we enjoy anime on our screens today.

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2 comments

  1. I honestly like how you incorporate some educational content for your blog, a lot of things about japanese culture is really interesting and i'm glad I got to understand it a little bit more :)

    http://www.kelkelxo.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for reading .. I'm glad you enjoyed it ..x

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