Tag Archives: japan

Super Punch: If Star Wars had been set in feudal Japan

Super Punch: If Star Wars had been set in feudal Japan

Tips for Travelling to and around Japan

Q & A Interview for a web mag (reference lost):

-Did you know anybody in Japan when you went?

Nope, didn’t know anyone or speak a word when i arrived. My older brother had lived in Japan and heard from a friend about a mushroom farm looking for a foreign worker. At the time, I was hitchhiking through the southern US after traveling Europe when i called my Mom to check in. She told me about that he’d pay the airfare. So, 2 weeks later i was standing on the side of road with my backpack, late at night with snow up to my knees waiting for a van to pick me up. The next day i started a 6 day a week, 10 hours a day job growing enoki and shiitake mushrooms.

-How did you survive the communication barrier?

First, humility – you have realize you will sound like a child or a caveman saying “I need food” “where is toilet” and basic tasks become tricky and people will try not to snicker

Second, smiling – i had a long hair and big beard and wore worker’s overalls and rubber boots so people didn’t quite know what to make of me in the rural area where i lived so smiling helped ease the surprise and awkwardness

Third – if you learn a dozen “special” words, you can totally act like you know it all ;-) Domo, dozo, so desu ne, so desu ka, hai hai, itsu, doko, suimasen …

-Any tips to people going to Japan?

Be prepared to simultaneously step 100 years into the future and 100 years into the past. Stay away from everything familiar (restaurants, hotels) and embrace the weirdness. Soak in hotsprings, eat octopus, get lost, head into the mountains and stay in a hut with strangers. For me, hitchhiking the country roads was totally safe and fun – folks picked me up and often invited me to their fave restaurant, tourist attraction, house, bar or temple. I stayed almost entirely away from the cities and found countryside somewhat unexpectedly wild and full of old agricultural and spiritual traditions. I also grew to savour the classic and modern literature of Japan – read these rather than guidebooks before going to better appreciate Japan.

Japanese committee herbal cannabis report

A dispatch from a friend in Japan with an interest in cannabis and public policy:

I just returned from an event which was attended by probably all the activists you know, including Marui, Maeda, Akahoshi, etc. Taskashi Okanuma was there are also. He was the one who told me about it.

A total of over 150 people attended, including some politicians. The crowd was mixed, from hippie types to lawyers in suits, but mostly just ordinary looking people, from young to old.

I was wondering to start with if it was going to be a pro-legalisation or a pro-hemp even, but it was all of the above, with no fear of contact as there had been before where some people talking about “hemp” would not want to mention “taima”.

The speeches were well presented and the organisation was efficient. I was impressed. I think everyone felt encouraged by this get-together. One guy from Okinawa reported how he and other repeatedly applied for and finally received a license.

At the end all the veterans of the movement were on stage together, ready to work together for one goal.

I had chances to talk to the guys from cannabist.org, to Mr Maeda, Mr Marui and also Takashi. Besides me the only gaijin was a Professor originally from the UK who lectures economy at a university in Kanagawa, a nice guy.

Overall it was a great and I think important event.

Zen Rambling in Japan ~ Originally in Heads Magazine

Authour’s intro in Heads Magazine

Authour’s note: This article “Zen Rambling in Japan” by me Dave Thorvald Olson originally appeared in Heads Magazine (now defunct) in the Vol. 6, Issue 4, circa: Spring 2006, as the cover story for the Travel Issue.

The iteration below is a late-version draft rather than the (apparently misplaced) submitted final version so there are some minor errors. This article is also markedly different from my “classic” Hemp Culture in Japan articles (see below) as this all original piece concentrates on modern times and practical tips rather than focusing on history and cultural change.

Heads did a beauty lay-out (excerpt scans included) and added several ancillary articles about Japanese culture in the issue. I’ll try to add in the photos where {indicated} in the article.

Be wary and read all the safety tips and caution closely – neither the Japanese police or Yakuza are to be trifled with but, if you keep it chill the good times are in store.

Ganbatte!

dvo, June 2010, Vancouver.

More Hemp in Japan

Hemp Culture in Japan – a 1992-7 ground-breaking treatise on the history and cultural significance of hemp in Japan is available in .html or .pdf . For alternate versions, visit JapanHemp.org, a site dedicated to Hemp in Japan. Published in Cannabis Culture magazine (#13 & Best of …), the Journal of International Hemp Association (V.4 N.1), as well as excerpted in several books including Hemp Horizons (USA), Hemp for Victory (UK) and “Hanp” from Norway.

Zen Rambling in Japan - Heads magazine cover

Continue reading Zen Rambling in Japan ~ Originally in Heads Magazine

Riverside Tokes for Phelps on the Varley Trail ~ Choogle On! #78

Riverside Tokes for Phelps

On Lynn Valley’s Varley trail, Uncle Weed discourses on fascist sponsors and greedy PR hacks reacting to young Mr. Phelps’ situation, plus talk of value of art vs. artist and listener email about parenting advice, blind shopping cart incidents, and a situation with a Briton arrested and incarcerated in Japan plus a spiel on Group of Seven artist Frederick Varley.

Jump in the water for Riverside Tokes for Phelps on the Varley Trail – Choogle On #78 (.mp3, 30:14, 28MB)

Continue reading Riverside Tokes for Phelps on the Varley Trail ~ Choogle On! #78

Toking and Traveling in Nippon – Choogle on #67

toking and travelin in nippon

From a new backporch high on the mountain slopes, Uncle Weed talks about his collections of t-shirts and lighters and long-ago trips to Japan – then discusses stoner culture, legal penalties, and travel observations with a Japanese cannabis enthusiast who tells his favourite strains, how he met ganja in Japan, compares Vancouver and Amsterdam, and documents the many strains of BC bud enjoyed on his visit while eating curry rice.

Pack your satchel for Toking and Traveling in Nippon – Choogle on #67 (.mp3, 21:27, 20MB)

Continue reading Toking and Traveling in Nippon – Choogle on #67

Drunken Japanese Petenque Storytime – Choogle on #64

Wandering the streets of Austin with old pal Yaki Niku, Uncle Weed recounts a strange international steel ball tossing tournament in a remote Japanese village known for radioactive hot springs.

The multi-national, dignitaries, dubbed the Genki Monkeys, represented eagerly through much drunkeness at the hands of mayor and his cohorts, followed by Born to be Wild karaoke and outdoor hot spring soaking riverside. Followed by an early morning breakfast of raw eggs, a hungover beat down by of old folks with tape measures, and a long afternoon of waiting around in the valley in discomfort due to a queasy formal dinner and an endless tour of world liquors.

Stumble along for Drunken Japanese Petenque Storytime – Choogle on #64 (.mp3, 22:21, 18MB)

Drunken Japanese Petenque Storytime

Note: the mentioned Mad Dog (the other Genki Monkey) is featured in:

Mission to the Homestead and Himalayas – Choogle on #30

Halloween Chaos in The Castro – Choogle on #29

More Podcast Goodness:

Postcards from Gravelly Beach – Literature Podcast – FeediTunesBlog

Out n’ About with Uncle Weed– Travelin’ man vidcast – ShowFeediTunes

Ephemeral Feasthouse – Miscellanea & Notes – BlogFeedPodcast

Busted in Japan – a narrative by a Briton caught in Kansai

A quick preamble to this stunning narrative …

I wrote the ground-breaking essay “Hemp Culture in Japan” which turned into a collaboration with HempMan, a German in Japan, to create a comprehensive clearinghouse of all information about Cannabis in Japan called Taima.org. This site is maintained by HempMan but in dire need to “web 2.0″i-fi-cation to make more searchable and participatory and such but i digress …

As part of my research, i get interesting things in the snail and postal mail – from angry letters from Iran PhDs to cool grow shot shots to other”researchers” wanting all my contacts.

This note though is heavy duty as this older gentleman recounts the dystopia experience of being shook down. Frustrating to be sure as no one would add any reason or sense to the process and he was cut off from most anyone but a rubber-stamping attorney.

I’ve followed up with the gentleman for some more insight, but for starters, get comfy and give this a read.

I arrived at Kansai Airport last March with around 15g of marijuana. I’d bought it in Amsterdam and thought it would be OK as I’d travelled in and out of Japan for years and never been searched – this time it was different. I don’t really know why they searched me – the sniffer dogs weren’t interested. Anyway, they discovered the stuff. Later that day they searched my apartment and discovered about 20g there in deep freeze – pretty bland stuff and I was hoping the import from Amsterdam was going to give me a better buzz.

I was kept at Kansai kouko police station for 18 days and then transferred to Sakai detention center in southern Osaka, where I spent a further 42 days (almost 2 months in total).

Even though I’d cooperated fully with the police, confessed and didn’t try to hide anything, the prosecutor demanded a 2 year prison sentence as I had a ‘significant’ amount. I’ve lived in Japan for 18 years and this is my first offence. In the trial, the judge regarded my ‘addiction’ as a big problem as I’d admitted to first smoking cannabis when I was 19 (I’m now 54) he said he was giving me a 18 month sentence suspended for 4 years. Very surprisingly I was granted bail after the first court appearance (the hearing and presenting of evidence). This cheered me no end as it seemed to indicate the judge and prosecutor did not regard me as a danger to society. At present I’m waiting to see what Immigration has to say as they decide to deport or not.

I did try to get my lawyer to emphasise the relative ‘harmlessness’ of cannabis abuse and the fact that I had often stopped smoking – sometimes for months at a time (couldn’t buy it) and also this was a victimless crime – smoking alone in my own home. This was ignored and not brought up at the trial but I suppose the lawyer had good reasons, he was pretty indifferent about the case to begin with and only after constant prodding by friends did he start to work a bit harder. I was still amazed at the possible harshness of the sentence. According to the lawyer, the maximum penalty for smuggling or possession of cannabis is 5 years in jail and/or a 30 million yen fine.

Detention in Japan was extremely boring and there were hundreds of rules to be obeyed. Sitting on a hard floor (this is Japan – no chairs are allowed) was very uncomfortable for me. If it wasn’t for friends bringing books and a decent cushion, I may have tried suicide in detention. The food was reasonable, though. I wasn’t made to pay court costs although my lawyer charged me his ‘standard’ fee – $4500. So now I’m out of a well-paid job and a lot poorer and still have the possibility of being
kicked out of Japan.

For anyone else contemplating bringing drugs to Japan, I’d advise – DON’T take the risk. Buy it in Japan. Grow it in Japan, (seeds are ‘apparently legal’ as there is no THC – but they’re always confiscated) but DON’T bring it in. According to the web site http://www.customs.go.jp/tokyo/english/iio/iio-cased-y2006.html even amounts as small as 1g are prosecuted.

If I’d done the same in my home country (Britain), I’d probably have been kept overnight in a cell or simply cautioned and then released – the police there have far better things to do with their time. The Japanese police throw huge amounts of money (and police time) at these prosecutions and my ‘file’ was 4 inches thick at the end, with scores of colour photos and colour copies of my diary, travel notebook etc. There were at least 3 complete copies produced. My home was searched by 10 officers for 90 minutes – while they discovered cannabis seeds hidden in a box, they failed to find a large bong filled with cannabis and may not have found my deep-freeze stash if I hadn’t pointed it out!

Police here seem to rely on confessions and don’t seem to have the ability or desire to ‘investigate’ cases thoroughly – which is why many Japanese kids ‘stonewall’ the cops, when arrested.

More on this topic:

Japan Bud wild in HokkaidoFor more hemp on Japan, listen to Japanese Mountain Satori Time – Choogle on #48 & International Heads and Hemp Oil – Choogle on #34

Hemp Culture in Japan a 1992-7 ground-breaking treatise on the history and cultural significance of hemp in Japan. Hemp Culture in Japan is available in .html or .pdf.

For alternate versions, visit Taima.org, a site dedicated to Hemp in Japan. Published in Cannabis Culture magazine (#13 & Best of …), the Journal of International Hemp Association (V.4 N.1) as well as excerpted in several books including Hemp Horizons and “Hanp” from Norway and Hemp for Victory from UK.

Message about Japan to the Scarborough Dude – Dick n’ Janes podcast

Message to the Scarborough Dude (.mp3, 6:25, 6.1MB)

If you don’t listen the Scarborough Dude’s podcast dicksnjanes [A rambling kinda talk about life and all that comes with it, held together with an unusual variety of great music…] you are missing out. He is a (decidedly) middle-aged rambler who lets his true emotions all hang out in loquacious hour long shows chronicling his innermost thoughts as we toils in business, travels far and wide, deals with co-workers, kids and colleagues and life in Canada. His political observations are astute and his social meanderings insightful. Not hard-hitting and full of ‘explosions’ but more like a hour being a sympathetic bartender to a patron with his heart on sleeve.

Anyhow, recently the Dude went to Japan on business and recorded well … just about everything. Listening to his rambles brought back a heap of memories so i fired him up while waiting for the Seabus a couple of weeks ago. He’s back from the far west now and a friend is filling in his shows (he’s always threatening to quit podcasting for whatever reason) but be sure tune in for a unfiltered view of middle-aged angst and joy from a classic Canadian.

My message offer flashbacks while wandering around Vancouver, waiting for the Seabus (toking a bowl) and listening to the Dude’s poignant discourse – topics include my experience as a enokitake farmer in Tottori-ken, New Year’s Eve eating mekon oranges around fire barrels and drinking under cherry trees and buckwheat hull pillows.

Subscribe to DicksnJanes Podcast!

Hempen Culture in Japan at Japanhemp.org

“Hempen Culture in Japan” as published at JapanHemp.org (formerly Taima.org)

Definitive research about the history of hemp cannabis in Japan. Traces many uses from Neolitic to modern times. Published in several magazines, first in the July 1997 issue of the Journal of the International Hemp Association (The Netherlands), then in the August 1998 issue of Cannabis Culture (Canada).

There are many small images to see along the pages here, but to go right to image gallery.

to taima.org main page

Hempen Culture In Japan

Introduction
HEMPEN CULTURE IN JAPAN:
 See also: Hemp comes to Japan
 See also: Hemp in Japanese history
 See also: Hemp in Religion
 See also: Zen and the Martial Arts
 See also: The Hemp Control Act
 See also: Hemp in the Japanese Language
 See also: The Japanese strains of hemp
 See also: Hemp in the Rural Areas
 See also: The Emporer’s Hemp Clothes
 See also: Cloth, Paper and the Arts
 See also: Food and Medicine
 See also: Contemporary Products and Entreprenuership
 See also: Changing the Laws
 See also: Current Agricultural & Economic Issues

Cannabis in Japan – A vocabulary primer
Cannabis Culture in Contemporary Japan

Bibliography

Source: Hempen Culture in Japan