A long, long time ago in a certain village, there lived an old man and his wife. They had no children so they prayed to God, “God, please give us a baby. Even if it were a tiny, tiny, thumb-size baby, we would be happy and grateful.”
Their prayers were answered and they were really blessed with a tiny, tiny baby. The baby was a boy about the size of the old man’s thumb. In delight, they named him Issun-boshi (One-Inch Boy).
One day, when he had grown older, Issun-boshi said to his parents, “I would like to go to the capital and work there. Please make arrangements for my journey.”
The old man therefore made a sword out of a needle that fit Issun-boshi perfectly. His wife made a boat out of a wooden bowl so that Issun-boshi could journey down the river to the capital.
“Here, take this needle sword.”
“Here, use this chopstick as an oar.”
“Thank you, Father and Mother. Goodbye, now.”
Issun-boshi thus set out for the capital, rowing his bowl boat skillfully. When he arrived at the capital, Issun-boshi visited the most magnificent house in the town.
“Hello, is anyone around?”
“Yes, I’m coming —. Oh?”
The servant who had come out wondered.
“No one’s up here. I thought someone had called out.”
“Hey, look down! I’m down here!”
The servant finally found the tiny figure of Issun-boshi who was standing at the foot of geta or Japanese sandals arranged on the floor of the entrance.
“Oh my goodness, what a tiny boy he is!”
Issun-boshi was then hired as a bodyguard for the princess of the house.
One day, Issun-boshi was attending the princess who made a visit to a temple. On their way home from the temple, all of a sudden, two giant demons appeared.
“Wow, look at this beautiful girl. Let’s take her with us.”
One of the demons tried to catch the princess.
Issun-boshi drew his needle sword and sprang upon the demon. However, the demon said, “Ha-ha, are you a bug or what? Get lost!”
The demon picked up Issun-boshi with its fingers and swallowed him whole. It was completely dark inside the demon’s stomach. Issun-boshi swung his needle sword around and stabbed everywhere inside the stomach. The demon cried out in pain,
“Ouch! It hurts!”
The demon immediately vomited up Issun-boshi. The other demon said, “All right. Now I’ll squash the bug boy!” But Issun-boshi held up his needle sword and jumped into the demon’s eye this time. The demon was frightened.
“Eek! Help, help!”
The two demons ran away crying loudly.
“Huh! Learn your lesson and never come back! — Oh? What is this, Princess?”
There was something strange left on the ground after the demons had gone.
“Oh dear, this is what’s called Uchide-no-kozuchi, the mallet of luck. If you shake it, you can have anything you want.”
So Issun-boshi asked the princess, “Please shake the mallet wishing that I can grow taller.”
The princess happily shook the mallet saying, “Issun-boshi, grow taller.”
Every time the princess shook the mallet, Issun-boshi grew taller and taller and finally became a tall and handsome young man.
Issun-boshi then married the princess, and worked hard and did well. It is said that he rose up to a very high position.