“Snow White” retold using only graphic symbols

The kamishibai (literally “paper play”) is a Japanese form of storytelling that involved a narrator using illustrated paper boards to tell stories. As the story would progress, a new board would replace the previous board, propelling the story forward. This concept served as the inspiration for graphic designer Katsuhiko Shibuya and his class of students at Joshibi University of Art and Design. The task, however, was to deconstruct fairy tales even further using only graphic symbols.


Momotaro, the story of a boy born from a peach who rids a town of terrorizing demons

Each graphic design fairytale comes with a legend to help the reader interpret the symbols. The story then plays out across seven boards. It’s a really fun concept that yielded great results. It obviously helps if you know the story but even if you don’t some of the boards are simply nice to look at.

They’re currently on view as part of a senior thesis exhibition at Design Hub, a space in Tokyo Midtown, through February 12, 2023. (Unfortunately the names of individual artists were not listed)

Issun-bōshi or “Little One-Inch,” the story of the tiny samurai

kachi kachi yama, the story of a mischievous tanuki