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Play: Kasajizoo

This play, based on a Japanese folktale, comes from a collection of plays and skits created by the ACT Japanese teachers’ group for use in their primary and junior secondary classrooms. Students work cooperatively in groups or as a class to prepare and perform the play for their classmates or at a school event.

Story Outline

Kasajizoo takes place on the eve of O-shoogatsu (New Year). A poor old man and his wife must try and sell their hand-made straw hats in order to buy some rice cakes to eat for New Year’s Day. However, the old man is unable sell a single hat. As he is returning home he comes across six Jizoo statues. It is a cold evening, and the old man takes pity on the statues and gives each one a straw hat. However, he is one short, so gives the remaining Jizoo his own hat. That night the six Jizoo repay the old man’s thoughtfulness with gifts of food, clothing and gold.

Cast

ナレーター×2 Narrator×2
おじいさん Old man
おばあさん Old woman
じぞう×6 Jizoo×6
村のひと Villagers (as many as necessary, non-speaking role)

Cultural Notes

Jizoo, O-jizoo-sama

are small, stone statues of the guardian deity of children. They are usually erected in memory of a specific child, and people will leave offerings (such as small toys, milk bottles etc) around them, and place knitted red caps on their heads. You can find Jizoo everywhere in Japan.

Kasa

These days, when kasa is referred to, we mean ‘umbrella’. However, originally kasa referred to traditional Japanese hats.

Language Concepts

  • numbers/ counting
  • leave taking
  • ~masen(deshita)
  • ~tai desu
  • ~te kudasai

Web Links

https://web-japan.org/kidsweb/folk/kasajizo/index.html
The kids website features a number of stories in kamishibai format, with background music of traditional songs.

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