Little One Inch : A Japanese Short Story

Little One Inch

Let us enjoy reading this Japanese Story of Little One Inch.

Once long ago in Japan there lived a couple who had no children. They prayed to the gods for a child, even one as small as a finger, and finally their prayers were answered. The child born to them was so small that they named him Issun Boshi, 'Little One Inch'. When Issun Boshi reached the age of 15, he said goodbye to his parents and set out for Kyoto, the capital city, to seek his fortune.

In Kyoto he found employment in a wealthy household. He could not do much work because of his size, but his diligence and sincerity pleased his master and his mistress. And their daughter found him delightful.

One day Issun Boshi accompanied the girl to the temple. On the way, two giants leaped out in front of them from behind some bushes.

Issun Boshi deliberately drew their attention to him so that the girl could escape. But then the giants were furious with him and one of them picked him up and swallowed him.

Issun Boshi had a needle his mother had given him. He used to wear it around his waist like a sword. When he found himself in the giant's stomach he took out the needle from its scabbard and began to stab the giant's stomach with it. Then climbing out through the gullet he stormed into the giant's mouth where he wreaked havoc with his needle. The giant was frightened and spat him out.

When the other giant bent down to look at him, Issun Boshi stabbed him in the eye.

The giants had had enough. They ran away, one holding a hand to his mouth and the other to his eye.

In their haste they left behind a mallet which Issun Boshi and the girl — she had come back to help him — recognized as a magical object.

"You have to hit it on the ground and make a wish," said the girl.

So they hit the mallet on the ground and made a wish. The next moment, Issun Boshi had grown to normal size and stood clad in the armour of a samurai!

The girl's father had no hesitation in giving his daughter in marriage to Issun Boshi, and the young samurai proved to be a devoted husband. Oh, yes, he brought his parents too to live with him and they, though happy to see their dear son grown so big, continued to call him Issun Boshi!

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