University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Using Popular Culture to Make Children into Soldiers: Propaganda Kamishibai in WWII Japan

Date & Time:
November 2, 2018 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
CHD 420
Sharalyn Orbaugh, Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Popular Culture (University of British Columbia)


David Earhart rightly argues that Japanese children were mobilized to a degree greater than those of any other combatant nation in World War Two. An examination of the visual and textual elements of propaganda kamishibai plays aimed at young children, created between 1938 and 1945, reveals the wartime roles envisioned for girls and boys, and the ways those roles changed as the war intensified. The Japanese indoctrination of children, like that of adults, was never monolithic or complete, but the concern of this presentation is to explore the intentions and strategies of the people charged with turning Japan’s children into soldiers, on the homefront or the battlefield. 


Sharalyn Orbaugh is a Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Popular Culture at the University of British Columbia. Recent publications include “Play, Education, or Indoctrination? Kamishibai in 1930s Japan” (forthcoming in Mechademia) and Propaganda Performed: Kamishibai in Japan’s Fifteen Year War (Brill, 2015).