Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Issun-Boushi (One Inch Boy)

Long, long ago, there lived an old man and his wife in a village. They had no children so they prayed to God to give them a baby every day. One day, to their surprise, they were endowed with a small boy whose height was one inch. They named him "Issun-boushi" -One Inch Boy. They loved him and treated him like a treasure, so One Inch Boy grew up strong; however, he couldn't become a tall boy.

One day, he said, "Father and mother, please give me a needle, a straw, a bowl and a chopstick". "What are you going to do with them?" his mother asked. "A needle is a sword, a straw is a sheath, a bowl is a boat, and a chopstick is an oar. I¹ll go to the capital city and become a samurai", he said. His parents let him; therefore he left the city.

He hopped into the bowl and arrived at the river, then went down the river like an arrow. Then a fish attacked him, so he drove the fish away with the chopstick. The fish mistook him for tasty food. Then he was thrown by a wave, whipped by rain, and blew by wind. At last, he made it to the city.

He decided to work for a wealthy man's house after he arrived at the city. One day he went to a shrine with the wealthy man's beautiful daughter. Halfway, they met a big demon. The demon was going to kidnap her. One Inch Boy stood up to the demon bravely. "Bad demon! If you touch her, I'll kill you!"

"Insolent boy! I'll eat you!" the demon said and quickly swallowed him down. Then, "ouch! ouch!" The demon felt pain. One Inch Boy pricked him with the sword of needle in his stomach. "Ouch! I'll die. I'll give up. Help me!" The demon vomited him out and ran like a rabbit.

"Thank you so much for helping me, said the princess. You are so small but so brave. Look! The demon has dropped something. This is an uchide-no-kezuchi - mallet of luck. If we shake this, we can get anything we hope for. What do you hope?"

"I'd like to be tall. Please make me a tall boy." She shook it; therefore he rapidly became a tall young man. Moreover, he married her and became a neat samurai as he had wished.

Eriko, Japan-AE2, CESL Today, v56, 2004

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