Restoring Hemp to Natural Place in Japan's Culture

  Restoring Hemp to Natural Place in Japan's Culture

Posted by CN Staff on November 08, 2002 at 09:25:41 PT
By Angela Jeffs  
Source: Japan Times 

Even as a child, Yasunao Nakayama knew of the importance of hemp, called "suna" in Japanese but most commonly known as "asa." His grandfather grew a plot of the stuff, for use in ritual Shinto ceremonies. Yasunao Nakayama, the first person in Japan licensed to grow industrial hemp, calls the plant central to Japanese culture from the earliest times.
Growing up in Hamaoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, Yasunao also became familiar with the problems of having a nuclear power station operating in close proximity. "Animals miscarried. There were strange mutant fish. It was a big issue in local politics."While at junior high school, he continues, he had a vision of a field of hemp. "The plants were gentle, giving off a good energy. I nearly died, but came back, vowing to make hemp my lifework."Meeting in Tokyo en route from Shizuoka to Oshima Island, where he lives with his parents, he carries a bag made from hemp fiber, with a very familiar logo of a leaf. His "tabi" (five-toed socks) look like cotton but are also made from the annual herb Cannabis sativa. "I ate hemp seeds for lunch. You can eat them whole or grind them, as with sesame. They're very nutritious."Yasunao is the first person in Japan to be granted a license to grow what is called industrial hemp. "There are some 100 farming families that have grown it traditionally for centuries, including the Miki family in Shikoku, who supply the Imperial family. Licensing, however, is new. I applied through my prefectural office, who applied to the appropriate ministry. The plot is only small, around 4 tsubo, but adequate to my needs. It's symbolic as well as practical."Native to Asia and extensively cultivated in other parts of the world, the plant is largely grown for the fibers to be extracted from its stems, and the drugs hashish and marijuana. In Japan, it is legal to be in possession of stems and seeds, but illegal to be found with leaves and flowers. Hence the need for a growing license."Hemp tends to get stronger in its effect when it goes wild," Yasunao explains. "The plants that grow freely as weeds in Hokkaido are very different to the hemp I grow."The purpose of his plot is for research. The word must have gone out, because soon after he gained his license in the 1990s he was busted for possession. "After I explained to the police the significance of hemp in Shinto rites and ancient Japanese culture, they let me go."The plant, he believes, has spiritual as well as practical properties. Regarded as a purifying agent, a baby's umbilical cord used to be tied off with hemp before being cut. During the Bon festival for the dead, the plant was burned in tribute to ancestors. While during the war, because hemp grew quickly, and had associations with Shinto and therefore the divinity of the Imperial cause, it was used for making military uniforms and parachutes."You will find that the hemp leaf traditionally used in designs for obi sashes and baby clothes," he says. "Also the rope pattern used to decorate pottery by Japan's prehistoric Jomon people is hemp-based. It's no accident that the fiber is used to craft the twisted rope (yokuzuna) worn by sumo's top champion yokozuna. It signifies its importance."Archaeologists -- pushing back the boundaries of history since the death of the Showa emperor -- have found considerable quantities of hemp seeds on Jomon sites, he adds. "Hemp was always central to Japanese culture."His book on the subject, titled "Makoto no Hanashi" ("Story of Truth"), was published in October last year by Hyogensha -- a strange but fascinating meld of historical fact and New Age fiction, now in its second printing. There are shadows of a new nationalism, even though he insists that the subject -- hemp -- is universal. "The Celts had a tradition of using the plant. You can find it throughout ancient cultures all over the world."At the same time he postulates that hemp's importance in Shintoism means that Japan led the way, as the source of all wisdom. "Japan was a hemp culture."Many Japanese of his age, born postwar but torn between embracing and rejecting Western values, seek to raise their country above the shame of surrender and occupation. They are outgoing, cosmopolitan and believe themselves open to the world, and yet they seek with a certain desperation to re-create Japan's spiritual heart in order to regain their cultural pride and personal self-esteem.Yasunao has established what he calls "a Jomon energy center" on Oshima. Its aim is to investigate the history and properties of hemp and discover how ancient people used it. "We need that kind of wisdom today." There's a similar interest in many countries, he says: Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada.He seeks to research and promote not only the many commercial properties of the plant -- clothing, oil, building materials, medicines -- but the cosmic relationship of human beings to its powers. "Hemp makes us find ourselves. I see the possibilities of a one-nation-on-Earth future."There is a new global consciousness, he decares. Last year he visited the United States (to talk hemp, naturally). This year he drove from the north to the south of Japan in a car fueled with hemp oil. "Check out my home page in English: ."The Korean written language, Hangul, which has its origins in Japanese, is hemp connected," he continues with growing enthusiasm. "Hemp is globally connected. We talk about the Silk Road. I talk about the Hemp Road."Source: Japan Times (Japan)Author: Angela Jeffs Published: Saturday, November 9, 2002 Copyright: 2002 The Japan TimesContact: opinion Hemp Archives

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Comment #25 posted by schmeff on November 10, 2002 at 14:03:38 PT:
Slightly off-topic question for DdC
You made a comment on another thread about home-baked bread with hemp seed butter.I've been eating a tablespoon of hempseed oil every day and am intrigued by the concept of hemp better. Do you have the time to email me about it?
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Comment #24 posted by SWAMPIE on November 09, 2002 at 03:55:22 PT
  This is a great article,and I will read more about it later.Hemp,from what I understand,has a very fibrous stalk,and depending on the strain can or cannot get you high.30 yrs. ago,I got a few seeds from a wild stand and planted them,and they were quite fibrous and tall,8 ft.,there were 2 fem,1 male,and they pollinated and produced seeds.I smoked the tops,and it was one of the best highs of my life!You could strip the fibers right from the stalks as they aged a bit.I used some to tie my seat cover down in my '65 Rambler!Didn't break for 2 years!LOL! More should know more about this important plant,and it is up to us to get the information out to the Sheeple,and as we know,it has become a daunting task.Here's a site that I think you all will enjoy about 'Shrooms and their place in history......SWAMPIE I especially like the info about Santa and Christmastime rituals!!!! Peace!!
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Comment #23 posted by DdC on November 09, 2002 at 00:45:00 PT
Hemp Hemp Hooray
I just rewatched this while turning the concept of hemp onto some non knowers. Blem them away. Good documentary about the processes and products available. Taken mostly at the first SC Hemp Expo. But includes processing footage from Romania and China. Lots of familiar faces in the movement. Produced by the owner of Pacific Hemp(website down)... Worthy...
DdCHemp Hemp Hooray The Growing Industrial Hemp Market or Stores
http://www.hempstores.comPacific Hemp (dead link at present time), good source of hemp seed flour, butter and oil...
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Comment #22 posted by mayan on November 08, 2002 at 17:17:11 PT
If God created hemp...then who wishes to destroy it?
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on November 08, 2002 at 16:47:23 PT

JR Bob Dobbs 
If you know Richard Cowan why don't you ask him to drop in here sometime and tell us how he feels. I think that would be nice. I can't get real video anymore because it was buggy and when I uninstalled it my computer started working ok again. I miss alot because of it but I can't handle a buggy computer. I know Mr. Cowan is very busy but he sure would be welcome.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on November 08, 2002 at 16:06:42 PT

JR Bob Dobbs 
I'm sure glad that I'm not the only one that isn't really sure. I've seen pictures of hemp fields from the Emperor of Hemp and they were very tall but are they then called cannabis sativa hemp? I don't know and I have no idea how to determine THC content either. Does that mean that seeds from an Indica plant are called hemp seeds too if used in the production of foods? Heck I don't know. It's way over my head.
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Comment #19 posted by Toad on November 08, 2002 at 16:04:39 PT

Japanese Mushrooms
Until recently you could buy psychedelic mushrooms legally in Japan. Anyone who has played any Ninetendo knows what influence 'shrooms had on the game designers.
 Since everyone's getting biblical I've always felt that Mushrooms were the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden. They give you knowledge that you otherwise would not have, which might piss off a vengeful God. Middle Easterners probably didn't get good apples anyway.
 Anyone catch the Atheist gathering in Washington DC last weekend on C-span. It was called the Godless March on Washington, those Athiests are a riot.
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Comment #18 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on November 08, 2002 at 15:59:25 PT

Re: Comment #6
Interesting, FoM. I don't have any practical experience telling the plants apart, but Richard Cowan always said on the Pot-TV news that it was basically the difference between a stalk and a bush. And someone, possibly Cowan, raised the issue a while back that the THC content issue is more complicated than it seems on the face of it. Sure, the end result of any THC content test is to come up with a percentage - but how you calculate it can, I understand, lead to very different numbers for the same samples. Again, I'm no expert...
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Comment #17 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2002 at 15:53:47 PT

Asa means Hemp 
And I used to think I was going to take a bush and wipe My asa. Or was it take an asa and wipe My bush?Now who wants to exterminate the hemp?(We have to be careful with our humor, We may offend the hemp.)
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Comment #16 posted by afterburner on November 08, 2002 at 15:36:09 PT:

Asa means Hemp in Japanese.
Does any one else see the cosmic irony that the DEA chief is named Asa, meaning hemp in Japanese? He is literally fighting himself, a typical Western malady. ego destruction or ego transcendence, that is the question for "Asa" Hutchinson and for all sentient beings.
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Comment #15 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2002 at 15:10:56 PT

THE THRONE OF GOD WILL BE IN THE TREE OF LIFE.Rev. 22:1-2-3 = in other words.When the river water is as clear as crystal (again?), it will have the tree of life on its sides. And if You exterminate the Tree of Life, You will be with out crystal clear water.But don't stop there.Look at where it says, "There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it...", meaning THE THRONE OF GOD WILL BE IN THE TREE OF LIFE.REV. 22:3, Cannabis / kaneh bosm!Is there any other candidate for the Tree of LifeGotta love Our Father.The ecologician. 
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Comment #14 posted by DdC on November 08, 2002 at 14:12:16 PT

Better link access...
Ecolution , Ohio Hempery , Mendo Hemp , Planet Hemp , Hemp Body products , Hemp Products , Hemp Information , Telluride Hempery , Eco Organics , Eco Directory , Hemp Supply , , Artisan Gear , Hemp Products clothing
And ya still don't think its Fascism?
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Comment #13 posted by DdC on November 08, 2002 at 14:05:14 PT

Carbohydrates vs Hydrocarbon poisoned Cotton
As an agricultural crop, hemp is gentle on the land and is easily grown without chemicals. Because it is so fast growing, hemp can help us shift to a carbohydrate based sustainable economy. This change is one of the major steps towards bringing us into harmony with our natural world.Hemp vs Cotton Industrial hemp had no illicit use, it is the equivalent of non-alcoholic beer. To "get high" from hemp an individual would have to smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole in a single sitting, this is humanly impossible. Then made it a schedule!1 nonpsychoactive narcotic that now comprises 99% of the cannabis (marijuana) eradications. Keeping the poisons in, health and freedom out!Chemical Cotton vs Organic Hemp Hemp Facts - - - - - Did you know???
Hemp is natures longest, strongest, most durable fiber. As a fabric it is softer, more insulating, more absorbent, more breathable, and longer lasting than cotton. It has been cultivated since 2800 BC in China and was grown by such people as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and even by 4H Children in the early 40’s. Although these facts have been almost forgotten, our forebears were well aware that hemp is softer than cotton, more water absorbent than cotton, has three times the tensile strength of cotton and is m any times more durable than cotton.Historical ref's to hemp acre of hemp produces as much paper as 4.1 acres of trees. Hemp is naturally archival quality and can be safely bleached using hydrogen peroxide. The first paper was made from hemp as well as the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, the first draft of the U.S. Constitution, and even the first Gutenberg Bibles. Hemp 'Eats' Chernobyl Waste: that can be made out of wood or plastic can be made from hemp, and is biodegradable.
Until the 1820s in America (and until the 20th Century in most of the rest of the world), 80 percent of all textiles and fabrics used for clothing, tents, bed sheets and linens,* rugs, drapes, quilts, towels, diapers, etc. - and even our flag, "Old Glory," were principally made from fibers of cannabis. For hundreds, if not thousands of years (until the 1830s), Ireland made the finest linens and Italy made the world's finest cloth for clothing with hemp.Cannabis Fiber 1941 Henry Ford built a hemp fueled and fabricated automobile that weighed only two/thirds the amount of a steel car and could resist blows 10 times as great without denting. In the 1930s, Congress was told by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics that many Polish-Americans still grew pot in their backyards to make their winter "long johns" and work clothes, and greeted the agents with shotguns for stealing their next year's clothes.Cannabis Food January of 1996 The American Farm Bureau Federation, more than 4.6 million-members strong, unanimously endorsed the researching and growing of industrial hemp.Cannabis Fuel 90% of all ship sails from at least Fifth Century BC until the late 19th century were made from hemp. Even today hemp is used on some ships because of its resistance to mildew and weathering and because it remains pliable in extreme conditions where plastic based ropes become brittle and crack.American High Society only 6% of the continental U.S. with hemp could produce enough energy to provide for America’s energy needs and end dependence on fossil fuels. Hemp is the number one biomass producer on earth (10 tons in approximately 90-120 days). The PotHeads Will Survive hemp oil contains the largest amount of essential fatty acids of any plant known. The protein contained in hemp seeds is the most complete and body available of any in the plant kingdom making hemp seed the most complete single human food
http://www.hempseed.comThe most common hemp product found in the US is hemp clothing. Clothing made from hemp is warmer, softer, more absorbent, and significantly longer lasting than clothing made from cotton and it grows herbicide, fungicide, and pesticide free in many industrialized countries around the world. Presently in the United States 60% of our pesticides are used on cotton, this is our number one ground water pollutant.  Hemp needs no chemicals and has few weed or insect enemies - except for the U.S.government and the DEA.Ecolution, Ohio Hempery, Mendo Hemp, Planet Hemp, Hemp Body products, Hemp Products, Hemp Information, Telluride Hempery, Eco Organics, Eco Directory, Hemp Supply, Rocko's Source for Hemp Products,, Rocko's Index, Artisan Gear, Cannabis Hemp from Dank Forest, Rocko's Info, Hemp Products clothing
And ya still don't think its Fascism?
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Comment #12 posted by DdC on November 08, 2002 at 13:16:00 PT

Only ganja can produce 12 fruits then and now...
Cannabis was traditionally used in 12 different ways: as clothing, paper, cord, sails, fishnet, oil, sealant, incense, food, and in ceremony, relaxation and medicine. And it was written, "On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare 12 manner of fruits, and yielding her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." (Rev. 22:2)Alter-Nativity you go to Genesis, the garden scene. God removes Adam and Eve for eating from the Tree of Knowledge. But it says he doesn't expell them actually for disobeying. He expells them because he lost trust in them. That since they disobeyed that order, they might continue and find the Tree of Life, which God never forbid. And after finding it they would "Become Gods Like Us". Who is the us, Ms God? Anyway it wasn't illegal then.And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. (Ezekiel 34:29)'Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth. To you it will be for meat.' And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:29-31)"In the later times, some shall speak lies in hypocrisy commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (Paul: 1 Timothy 1-4)Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind, And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Matthew 15:1-3, 7, 12-14) 

Sacramental Cannabis
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Comment #11 posted by DdC on November 08, 2002 at 12:55:18 PT

Thats Rev 22:2
I think I memorized that one as a kid. ¶8)
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on November 08, 2002 at 11:39:50 PT

The GCW 
Thanks! I never thought of it that way. I spent many hours reading Revelation years and years ago. Everyone should read it. It sure is a thought provoker.
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Comment #9 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2002 at 11:04:08 PT

You said, "Hemp & Cannabis will bring harmony between cultures all around the world I believe."The last page of the Bible says, "...and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." (if in fact cannabis is the Tree of Life, as believed)
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Comment #8 posted by DdC on November 08, 2002 at 11:02:59 PT

Cannabis in Japan Cannabis(Taima) / Hemp(Asa) ¶8)
Taima . Org in Japan Cannabis(Taima) / Hemp(Asa) ¶8)
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2002 at 10:45:38 PT

Learn something new everyday.
...a baby's umbilical cord used to be tied off with hemp before being cut.=-=-=-=-=...the cosmic relationship of human beings to its (cannabis) powers. "Hemp makes us find ourselves....There is a new global consciousness...=-=-=-=-=If You think commercial properties of the plant -- clothing, oil, building materials, medicines etc. are relevent, IT'S SPIRITUAL IMPLICATIONS are bigger and more powerful. In the end the spiritual implications may prove to be what the bush types don't want You to know, the most. 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on November 08, 2002 at 10:44:05 PT

I'm not sure because I've never seen a field of Hemp or Cannabis to compare. Actually I don't know how to tell the same plant apart. It is the same plant right? Some are tall and skinny and some short but you can have tall sativas and short indicas so I don't know. I really never did understand this part of the issue. THC content I understand though.
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Comment #5 posted by CorvallisEric on November 08, 2002 at 10:37:46 PT

After seeing the picture I'm confused - that must be something other than his own little plot. And don't they seem a little short and bushy? ;)
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 08, 2002 at 10:35:18 PT

Japan and Hemp
I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I'd like to buy the world some Hemp and keep it company.Hemp & Cannabis will bring harmony between cultures all around the world I believe.
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Comment #3 posted by CorvallisEric on November 08, 2002 at 10:30:55 PT

How large his plot is
Tsubo is a Japanese unit of area for real estate. 4 tsubo = 142.16 square feet, according to
 In other words, a bit under 12 feet on a side if it were a square plot.Also, from Japan, really good cannabis website:
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 08, 2002 at 10:27:49 PT

Look at the cool picture that was with the article!
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Comment #1 posted by p4me on November 08, 2002 at 10:24:28 PT

It will be interesting to see the bonsai cannabis plants when cannabis sheds the prohibitionists.I wonder what the mood is in Japan over the marijuana madness the US imposed on them after WW2. It would be nice to here more about Japan because of millineums of use in a culture that prizes tradition.1
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