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Uchide no kozuchi

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Uchide no kozuchi

Uchide-no-Kozuchi (打ち出の小槌) is a legendary Japanese "magic hammer"[1] which can "tap out" anything wished for.[2] This treasure is also rendered into English as "magic wishing mallet"[2] or "lucky hammer,"[3] "the mallet of fortune", etc.

In popular belief, magic wooden hammer is a standard item held in the hand of the iconic deity Daikoku-ten,[2] who is often represented as figurines, statues, netsukes, and in architecture.

It is also a stock item in popular tales. In Issun-bōshi ("One-Inch Boy"), the hero gains the mallet defeating an ogre (oni) and amass wealth, while in modern embellishments, he even transforms himself into full adult-size. In Momotarō ("Peach Boy"), the mallet is captured from the ogres in Onigashima, alongside the kakure mino (raincoat of invisibility) and kakurekasa (hat of invisibility)[3][1]

The notion that ogres possessed this prized mallet dates much earlier than the tales, which are part of the otogizōshi collection from the Muromachi Period. It can be traced at as far back as The Tale of Heike (ca. 1240), or, if the instance of use in the work has any historicity, datable to before ca. 1118.

In folkloristics, the uchide no kozuchi is catalogued in the Stith Thompson motif index scheme under ""magic hammer, D 1470.1.46".[1]


  • Issun bōshi 1
  • History 2
    • Etymology 2.1
    • Early usage 2.2
  • Popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • Footnotes 5
    • Explanatory notes 5.1
    • Citation 5.2

Issun bōshi

In the legend, the one-inch tall Issun-boshi, after leaving his parent's home, comes under the employ of a wealthy daimyo, whose daughter is an attractive princess. Although scorned for his height, he is given the job of accompanying the princess. While traveling together, they are attacked by an Oni, who deals with pesky Issun-boshi by swallowing him. He defeats the Oni by pricking him from within with his needle/sword. The Oni spits out Issun-boshi and drops the 'Uchide-no-Kozuchi as he runs away. In the otogizōshi, he then shakes out opulent riches with the mallet and becomes a court favorite. In the better-known modernized versions, the princess uses the power of the mallet to grow him to full size. At the end of the story, Issun-bōshi and the princess are married.



The word uchi de no kozuchi literally translates to "striking-out [little] hammer,"[4] or "hammer that strikes anything out [that is desired]".[5] In plainer speech it is understood that the hammer is to be shaken[5] or swung.

Early usage

According to the Hōbutsushū (ja) (1179), the mallet is a "wonderful treasure," such that when one goes out into a wide open field, it can be used to tap out a mansion, amusing men and women, useful servants, horse and cattle, food, and articles of clothing.[6][7] However, all the items wished for reputed disappear at the sound of the bell tolling (hence the necessity of using it in a vacant field),[6] and the moral of this Buddhist sermon-type tale (setsuwa) is that this is no treasure after all.[8]

In The Tale of Heike is an anecdote whereby a strangely outfitted person moving about in the night, is mistaken for an ogre (oni), and his kindling wood mistaken for the uchide no kozuchi, attesting to the belief even then that this was a treasure reputedly owned by the ogres. The anecdote occurs in scroll 6 of Heike, under the chapter on Gion no nyōgo (ja) (Lady Gion). One night, near Gion Shrine, a figure is witnessed seemingly with hair like a bed of silver needles, and something glowing in his hand, which people feared to be an ogre, carrying the uchide no kozuchi for which these demon-kind beings are famous. The imperial guardsman Tadamori was ordered to investigate, and he discovered it was just a priest trying to illuminate a light in the chapel. The priest had put straws in his head to prevent getting damp.[9] The same anecdote also occurs in the Genpei jōsuiki, which states that the priest was blowing on the embers in an earthenware container to keep it from going out, and when he did the straws on his head would illuminate and appear like silver needles.[10] If this was a historical event, it happened sometime before or around the time when Kiyomori (born 1118) was conceived by the Lady Nyogo, who was then mistress to Retired Emperor Shirakawa, and Kiyomori's putative father Tadamori being the guardsman sent on the oni-hunt; but the tale is likely a "fable about Kiyomori's royal parentage."[11]

It has been observed that the treasures of the oni in the later tale of Momotarō incorporated this older lore about treasures the ogres possessed.[10][12] It has been observed that the same set of treasures as Momotarō's oni, or practically so, are described in The Tale of Hōgen, regarding Minamoto no Tametomo traveling to Onigashima island.[12] Tametomo discovers that the islanders claimed to be descendants of oni, and named their now-lost treasures as the "cloak of invisibility, the hat of invisibility, floating shoes, sinking shoes, and sword" in some texts,[13] and in older variant texts (Nakai codex group) one treasure is uchide no kutsu (shoes of wishing), a likely scribal error for uchide no kozuchi according to scholars.[12]

Popular culture

  • The hammer, called the "Midge Mallet", is used in the video game Secret of Mana to make playable characters smaller or to grow back to normal size.
  • In the anime Gintama, appears a gadget called "Uchide no Kozuchi Z503", which can reduce the size of those who are kicked with it.
  • In the video game Ōkami, there is a character called Issun (who is loosely based on Issun-boshi) who follows the main character. Along with Issun, the Uchide's Mallet (referred to as the "Lucky Mallet" in the English localization) also appears in the game, although it is used to shrink the protagonist (a wolf avatar of the Shinto sun goddess Okami Amaterasu) instead, to Issun's size (rather than the other way around) granting one access to otherwise inaccessible areas. After obtaining it from the Sunken Ship, the mallet is shown to have a will of its own as it flies away, forcing Amaterasu and Issun to chase it. Upon catching up to it they discover that the mallet was not trying to run away, but instead was helping them in locating the source of a poisonous mist (which has been causing problems for Amaterasu and Issun), and its shrinking power helps them sneak into the Imperial Palace, eventually allowing them to enter the Emperor's body and defeat the boss Blight (source of the poison mist).
  • In the video game The World Ends with You, is one of several secret items that can be found by the player after beating the game. It is an accessory that increases the amount of experience the wearer gets (unlike the legend it has no effect on the characters size in the game and is simply just another accessory which is reference to the Japanese legend). Its in-game description is "The miniature golden hammer of Muromachi-period legends that lets you change your height at will. Perfect for short folks!" (referencing the legend). Random NPCs also makes a reference to the legendary hammer. In the English localization, the name for this item is Lucky Mallet.
  • In the anime series, Folktales from Japan, the Mallet appears twice in the series. First in the 2nd and later in 63rd episode of the series; both appears are in the segment named "Little One Inch".
  • Some Maneki Neko figures also appear with the Uchide no kozuchi in the right hand, evoking Daikoku-ten.
  • The hammer is a recurring item in early Final Fantasy games and is used to cure the user of the status effect 'Small'.
  • Sukuna Shinmyoumaru, the final boss of the 14th Touhou game Double Dealing Character claims to be a descendant of Issun-boshi. She holds Uchide's Mallet, which is directly responsible for much of the game's plot.

See also


Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Antoni 1969 renders the others as "the magical cloak, the cap of invisibility" which is redundant; perhaps for the latter "cap".


  1. ^ a b Ikeda, Hiroko (1952). "A Type and Motif-Index of Japanese Folk-Literature". Ff communications 209: 148. 
  2. ^ a b c Sargent, G.W. (1969) [1959], The Japanese Family Storehouse, CUP Archive, pp. 85; 199, note4 
  3. ^ a b Antoni, Klaus (1991). "Momotarō (The Peach Boy) and the Spirit of Japan: Concerning the Function of a Fairy Tale in Japanese Nationalism of the Early Shōwa Age". Asian Folklore Studies. 50 (1): 155–188.  
  4. ^ a b Sakai, Atsuharu (1952), "(237) Uchide-no-kozuchi or Aladdin's Mallet", Japan in a Nutshell: Japanese psychology, tradition, customs and manners, Yamagata Print. Company, p. 162 
  5. ^ a b Garis, Frederic de (2013) [1935], We Japanese : being descriptions of many of the customs, manners, ceremonies, festivals, arts and crafts of the Japanese, Routledge, p. 566-  (Yamagata press, 1935, 1936, 1937; 富士屋ホテル 1940)
  6. ^ a b 平康頼 (Taira no Yasunori) (1919), 足立, 四郎吉, ed., 大日本風教叢書 第1輯: 342–3  
  7. ^ 日本大百科全書 (小学館) 3, 1985: 142  
  8. ^ 高橋, 亨 (2004). "無名草子における引用関連文献の総合的調査と研究". 
  9. ^ Bialock, David T. (2007), Eccentric Spaces, Hidden Histories, Stanford University Press, p. 292,  
  10. ^ a b 井乃, 香樹 (Ino, Kōju) (1941), 紀記の神話と桃太郎 (Kiki no shinwa to momotarō), 建設社出版部 
  11. ^ Bialock 2007, p. 294
  12. ^ a b c 志田, 義秀 (Shida, Gishū) (1941), "桃太郎概論 (momotarō gairon)", 日本の伝説と童話 (Nihon no densetsu to dōwa), 大東出版社, pp. 305–6 
  13. ^ 井乃 1941, p. 175–
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