Interviews with storytellers - Mio Shapley

Mio ShapleyMio Shapley comes to the Settle Storytelling Festival 2011 and presents Kamishibai Capers.
 
Tell us something about your background.
 
I was born in Japan in the beautiful mountain area where there were lots of dragonflies and butterflies. We lived in a small town and there was always someone to tell me off if I got something wrong! Everyone knew each other.
 
Where in the world are you?
 
I am now based now in Edinburgh.
 
How did you become a storyteller?
 
My grandfather was a school teacher and he told me stories whenever I went to see him. My grandfather more like home entertainment, he had so many stories. He was the one who inspired me.
 
Later when I came to live in the UK, I went to Emerson College in England and here I attended a 3 months residential course in storytelling. That was in 2002.
 
Where do you get your stories from?
 
Most of the stories I tell are Japanese folktales I learnt from my grandfather. He lived in a beautiful sunny house in the countryside. He loved fishing and he loved children. He was well known in the area because he was a teacher for a long time.
 
I remember, when I used to visit him, he would put his hand out and take me and my sister aside and say to, "Are you my treasure." And I said, "Yes!" Then when would give my sister and I a little sweet,  a piece of chocolate or a rice cracker. Then he'd put us on his lap and tell us a story.  When we got older we' d sit at his feet.
 
What stories did he tell you?
 
He told us so many stories, one of my favourites was about a local fox that turned into a human. I heard hundreds of these stories. Sometimes he would use a Kamishibai. 
 
What is Kamishibai?
 
A Kamishibai is like a little theatre on the bicycle. Each scene is drawn on  a separate sheet of paper like a storyboard.
 
In the old days the storyteller would come out and call out the children and he will sell sweets and the children would sit around him in the park. Then he'd get out the Kamishibai and begin to tell the story. Often, he would stop the story and say "come back tomorrow and then I'll continue." 
 
Who is your favourite storyteller?
 
David Cambell is a favourite storyteller of mine.
 
What is your favourite story?
 
I like the story about a boy going underwater and riding on the turtle on his way to the dragon palace. Another favourite is the story of Momotaro - the peach boy who fought the monsters.
 
What do you do when not telling stories?
 
I am professional harpist and sometimes I tell stories with the harp.