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design process case study 2-2:  

sexual education in India 

development of a kamishibai educational kit

5 months / 2017

Teachers and students in India feel awkward while talking about reproductive health. 

The Problem:


My Proposition:

Kamishibai - a Japanese paper theater on cardboards with text on the side facing the narrator, pictures on the side facing the audience.

I developed a beginner-friendly, less costly variation of kamishibai which can easily be downloaded and put together by local teachers.

It's a series of stories each thematizing various aspects of sexual education in an enjoyable and objective way.

1. Adaptation

When I was in kindergarden, I used to get annoyed by kindergardeners who inclined the kamishibai board too far to see the picture, or who accidentally hid part of the pictures with their hands.

Carton board is great for regular use, but it's also rather costly. So my idea was to just bind together printed sheet of papers with a piece of carton board. This way, the sheet of paper can be hanging loosely, giving the the audience a good view of the picture regardless of how the narrator is holding it.

kamishiabi fails

2. Sketches


I did some sketches and pre-mock-ups, to understand which functions I really needed to create the most effective tool. 

sketches kamishibai

3.  Mock-ups

I then made some mock-ups, using materials I could easily find in the neighborhood. 

Mock-up kamishibai

4. Content 

The story of the series should be delivered in a way that ensures that nobody feels criticized or made fun of. The pilot episode is about menstruation.

I chose to use a school of animals as the background to the story. The two main characters are attending this school. This way, they can question human behavior without appearing silly, and learn about human anatomy without feeling awkward.

I was inspired by Aesop's fables and the manga of Osamu Tezuka.

script kamishibai menstruation

5. Characters

I researched what kind of animation series are popular in India, and was inspired by "Dexter's Laboratory" and "Powerpuff Girls" for their easy to recognize character features.

I created a range of characters:

Animal A: curious, active, reckless,

a trouble maker

Animal B: caring, intelligent, cautious,

a sidekick

Animal C: knowledgeable, respected, inert,

a teacher

Human A: stereotypical, young, naive,

a common man

Human B: modern, worldly,

a role model

I started to draw the main characters as cats, which are not at all popular in India, but they were easier to develop this way for me. I then translated these characters into monkeys. I needed a lot of help from my Indian friends to understand which animals were culturally well accepted.

sketches Key
Sketches Mon

6. Verifying

I asked several Indian friends of mine to look at the characters and the plot, so that I could be sure I was actually creating something that could easily be accepted in the Indian cultural context.

7. Final mock-up

In total I needed ten images. Luckily, I could work on high performing cintech digital tablets.


Still, it took me approximately three to four hours to get from the first sketch to the final image.

Key and Mon

the mekurishibai kit

Kamishibai Key and Mon

How it works

The bundle of printed paper is just hanging in the air, automatically keeping its front to the children.

...regardless of how the performer prefers to incline the surface with the text.

Since narrators will most likely never have seen a kamishibai performance, I decided to dispense with the possibility for advanced performance techniques such as sliding. 

By binding the bundle together, I reduced the risk of pages getting lost or messed up.

Theory at school

Mon (left), Key (middle) asking Owl Sir (right) about the menstruation pad they found on the ground.

“Owl Sir, we found this in the forest. It fell out of some girl’s pocket. What is it?”

Owl responded in a deep voice, 

“It’s called a sanitary napkin, and used by human women during their menstruation. Some are made of plastic like this one. I hope you didn’t eat it.” He looked at the bite mark on the napkin and over to Key, who snickered.

Pupils thinking about where a human baby stays during pregnancy. The reader is invited to ask the same question to the audience.

“Now, does someone know where a human baby stays during pregnancy?”

{You can ask this question to the class}

“Is it the stomach?”

“No, it’s something else!”

“I heard that they come out of this hole that humans pee from!”


Real life at home

Owl Sir teaching his pupils about menstruation. Since the students are animals, it's natural that they need a lecture about the most basic things human. 

“So when a baby is staying in the uterus, she or he needs a fluffy bed with a lot of blood circulation to give her or him enough nutrition and oxygen like this image Nr. 1. But as you might have noticed, human women are not always pregnant. When the bed is not used for some time, it has to be freshened. Normally every 28 days, but it depends on each person. (...)"

A girl being reassured by her big sister, who transmits the message I try to get across about menstruation.

"Menstruation is a natural thing, and it’s necessary in order to have a baby. I’m happy to have a period, and I think you should be, too.”

Commercial sanitary pads are often disposed of in the wrong way in India, causing environmental hazards. Since the idea of washable sanitary napkins takes some time to gain acceptance, I just introduce this alternative.

“So you touch the blood?” The girl looked surprised.

“Well yes! Just like our grandmothers used to do. It’s not a big deal once you get used to it.

After all, it’s just your own blood. Plus, cotton has such a nice feeling on the skin. And it’s healthy cheaper, and it’s ecological, so for me, it’s worth it. (...)"

My presentation in front of 77 local school children aged between 10 to 15 went quite well, but just one case study is not enough. 

I'm currently searching for organizations which are interested in using my project in front of school children. 

Presentation at a local school

Presentation at "International Symposium: The Art of Kamishibai"

I also participated in an international conference on kamishibai in May 2018 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and gave a presentation of my project which was well received.

If you work for an organization that tries to spread awareness about reproductive health and would like to try my product, please contact me via:



Thank you.

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