Issun-Boshi (一寸法師) or The Inch High Samurai was a clever young man who was born at just over an inch tall. - In some of the earliest versions of the tale: the boy was scorned by his family because they "felt it was disturbing that he wouldn't grow larger than an inch" and so they treated him a bit like a yokai, and so; Issun left to prove himself at a young age, travelling to the capital to become a warrior. Using a bowl as a boat, a small cup as a helmet, sewing needle as a sword, & a strand of straw as his scabbard. - He soon found work in the capital & fell for the chancellor's daughter. - Who of course, wouldn't marry him because he was so small. - So: in order to get her hand in marriage, he decides to frame her for stealing 2 grains of rice! [A very serious crime.] – As the chancellor and the daughter argue: Issun mediates (manipulates) between the two and soon l both isshun and the daughter are kicked out of the capital. - Later in the story, he earns her trust by saving her from an Oni (isshun gets eaten alive, multiple times, pokings his way out with his needle.) from that encounter, Issun gets a 'magical mallet' which he uses to grow to "normal size" & lives happily ever after with his bride......Hooray???
•History and early appearances•
Later child friendly/modern retelling's of the story seem to omit the fact that Isshun was abandoned, as well as remove the part where he framed the girl. (probably to make everyone a bit more likeable.) - Another popular variant to the story is often titled "Mame suke" or "Bean-Boy" where it becomes a bit more typical of japans folktales; the elderly childless couple wish: "even if they had a child as small as one of their little fingers they would be content" the gods answer their prayers & the boy is born from his mothers thumb or grows from some beans. - Because of this: He often falls into the category of "kids born from fruits" such as Momotaro, Uriko and Kaguya Hime.
Isshun boshi's story dates back to the 'Otogi Zoshi' a collection of 350+ proses and 23+ folktales, published in 1725, however, the included stories date back to the Medeval era(muromachi period.(1392–1573)
In Modern Pop Culture: you probably recognize his descendant as Sukuna from Tohou project. He also appears in the SMT series and is also an artist/ protagonist character in Okamiden.
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo thats me!) - Part of my Night parade of 100 Demons - Yokai & Japanese folklore sticker collection, weather-resistant 4" Glossy sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!
– PS: "実寸法" (which i wrote upsidown on his helmet.) roughly translates to "actual dimensions" or "To Scale" [I've done this a few times with other small yokai that wouldn't look as nice if i where to printed them 'to scale' with the other stickers. haha.]