Issun Bōshi by Icinori (Gestalten)

The One Inch BoyAnother belter from Gestalten. Issun Bōshi translated as “The One-Inch Boy” has been adapted from a Japanese folktale. It is a powerful tale with hugely impressive illustrations, reminiscent of traditional Japanese block printing.

The story begins with a peasant couple who long for a child.

“We’d like a little boy, any size at all. We’d like him little, we’d like him small. We’d love him tiniest of all.”

Issun Boshi

Ultimately they are blessed with their child and he was tiny. Meet the aptly named ‘one-inch boy’.

One day the boy decides to go in search of adventure, armed only with a rice bow and a needle.


The beautifully presented pages are filled with bold colour and in stark contrast, the copy is surrounded by lots of white space.

The boy encounters an Ogre who promises him to make him taller if he brings the Ogre the girl from the Nobleman’s home. The boy declines the offer, but circumstance bring the girl and the Ogre together via Issun and as the Ogre had promised to make the boy taller, Issun grew in front of their very eyes.


But this ending isn’t so straight forward and is open to interpretation. A refreshingly different end to a story. Another reason we love this book and will continue to return to this gem.

For us, Gestalten books has become synonymous with quality design and perfect delivery and this is another to add to their growing list.

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