Long, long ago there lived a sweet old couple. Having no children but desiring one very much, they went to the shrine and prayed, "Please, please let us have a child, no matter how small." Eventually, a son was born to them. But small indeed was the child - no larger than a grown man's fingertip.

The couple raised the child tenderly, and though he became a bright and well-respected young man, he grew not at all. As a result, he became known as Issun-boshi (issun is a unit measuring about 3 centimeters).

One day, Issun-boshi told his parents that he wanted to seek his fortune in the city. His parents were worried about their son but, trusting him, they sent him off with a sword made of a sewing needle, a sheath made of straw, and a boat made from a rice bowl with a chopstick for an oar. Issun-boshi walked along until he came upon the river that flowed towards the town. There he set his rice bowl in the water and paddled with the chopstick for days on end, until at last he reached the town. 
Issun-boshi walked about town until he found himself in front of the stately mansion of the lord. At the gate he announced, "I have come to the city to work and train. I beg of you to make me a servant." But he was so tiny that the guard did not notice him. "I'm here, I'm here," Issun-boshi shouted. Finally the guard spotted him and lifted him up from the shadow of his geta (Japanese sandals). Issun-boshi was granted permission to see the lord and, in the palm of the lord's hand, he knelt, bowed, and pledged his loyalty. The lord took an instant liking to Issun-boshi and made him a retainer. Everyone in the mansion soon came to like the intelligent, charming Issun-boshi, but none more so than the lord's daughter. Before long, he became her personal attendant.

One afternoon the princess took Issun-boshi along and went to pay her respects at the Kiyomizu temple. Along the way, two ogres suddenly jumped out onto the road and blocked their path. Issun-boshi unsheathed his sword and instantly threw himself upon their attackers. But then suddenly one of the ogres swallowed him up in one gulp. In retort, he stabbed at the insides of its stomach. The ogre was so overcome with pain that it threw Issun-boshi up out of its stomach. Issun-boshi immediately jumped up on the other ogre's eyebrow and stabbed at its eye. Defeated, the ogres fled away crying, and in the process, one of them dropped its magic hammer.
 The princess picked up the hammer and said, "If you wave this, anything you ask for - money or rice - will be yours." Issun-boshi replied, "I want neither money nor rice. All I want is to become full-sized." The princess nodded, then waved the hammer, singing, "Growww, growww." 
In an instant, Issun-boshi became a full-grown, handsome warrior. He married the princess and, together with his parents, they lived happily ever after.