The Rats' Wedding
Author Kawamura Aiko 川村あい子
Print artist Sano Hiroshi 佐野浩
5 August 1943
Colour lithographs on cardboard
Children's literature in Japan mixed entertainment with moral lessons and guides to correct behaviour. This kami-shibai (紙芝居 , paper theatre) illustrates a traditional Japanese folktale - 'The Rats' Wedding. A beautiful rat's parents seek the world's most powerful bridegroom for their daughter, and they consider the sun, a cloud, the wind and a wall before realising that a rat is really the most suitable match. In this wartime version, the rats wear patriotically simple clothes - the groom in uniform, the bride in patterned cotton garments. During the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945) sartorial restraint was required as part of the war effort.