“Very glad to see this article discussing a very fascinating aspect of Japan culture. I worked as a mushroom farmer and hitchhiked throughout remote rural areas in Japan and saw cannabis culture of all sorts — from traditional handicrafts and religious artifacts to folks harvesting wild cultivars for smoking and extracting.
A few annotations if i may:
1) My 1996/8 research essay traces the history of hemp in Japan and various uses and appeared in Cannabis Culture, Journal of International Hemp Association and Hemp Horizons
2) JapanHemp.org has gathered a massive repository of hemp artifacts and information in English and Japanese.
3) Note the wandering warrior poets Basho and Kobayashi Issa wrote about hemp on their journeys and hemp in mentioned in other literary classics.
4) The National History Museum in Sakura has many garments with unmarked cloth which are clearly not silk, cotton or mulberry, but not labelled as hemp – in fact the characters do not appear anywhere in the museum though the movement and trade form Korea and India was discussed as was the advent of silk production.
5) A commenter below mentioned wild Hokkaido cannabis and i can concur that these tall, robust, wild and THC-laden plants indeed do exist on roadsides and country areas.”
There seem to be few dull moments in the life of first lady Akie Abe, who sometimes spends her time hosting a web-based talk show, harvesting honey from a bee farm and even paying occasional visits to the contentious Yasukuni Shrine.
Most recently, Ms. Abe raised eyebrows after telling a Japanese magazine that she has considered becoming a hemp farmer to help revive the traditional culture.
In an interview with Spa!, Ms. Abe was quoted as saying that she had become interested in hemp cultivation and considered applying for a permit to grow the plant after studying its history.
“Hemp is a plant of which all of its parts can be used effectively,” Ms. Abe is quoted as saying. “While it is not yet permitted in Japan, I think it can be put into great practical use for medical purposes as well.”
Of course, hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, and Japan maintains a hard line on marijuana. The Cannabis Control Law enacted in 1948 bans the import, export, cultivation and purchase of marijuana. But prior to that, hemp was widely grown in Japan and used to make fabric and for use in imperial ceremonies. There are legal hemp farms in Japan, but they are rare and require a special permit.
Ms. Abe said in the article that she’d like to revive Japan’s tradition of growing hemp. “I’ve even considered myself to apply for a permit to grow hemp,” she was quoted as saying.
The article included a photo of the first lady visiting a legal hemp farm in western Japan in August and posing for a photo in the middle of the plants.
Ms. Abe has promoted the article on her personal Facebook page, encouraging those interested in the topic to pick up a copy.