Ancient Japan’s Hemp Culture

Japan is the first country in Asia to soften the toughness of the industrial hemp regulation nowadays. It has a secure cultural connection with hemp, and hemp use can even date back to ancient times.

The Origin of Japan’s Hemp

Hemp has grown in Japan since neolithic Jomon (means ‘pattern of ropes’) period (dated between 14,000–300 BC). During the period people lived on hunting and collecting and used hemp for weaving clothing and baskets.

A neolithic cave painting from coastal Kyushu (the third-largest island of Japan’s five main islands) depicts  hemp stalk with hemp-shaped leaves. People dressed strangely, horses, and waves were also in the painting, perhaps depicting the Korean traders bringing hemp to Japan.  

Hemp | International Hemp Association

The Development of the Japanese Hemp

Japan introduced hemp from China. Hemp went to Korea firstly, and then to Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.  

With time going on, more people  from China and Korea,  make Japanese culture into the Yayoi Period(dated 300 BC -300 AD), produce major changes in Japan as foreigners imported progressive practices, and the native Japanese quickly adapted their ways.  

Most significant was the spread of agriculture and the clan societal structure.  Hemp successfully adapted to the Japanese climate and spread throughout the country.  

Hemp was already a well-established crop by recorded language during the Yayoi Period.  

The Culture Connection Between Japanese Hemp and Its Religious Belief

About seventh century AD, Bukkyo (Buddhism) traveled from India to China, to the Hermit Kingdom of Korea, and then to Japan.  From India to China, the doctrines of the Buddha changed.  Nevertheless, from China to Korea, the doctrines kept still. 

When it was arriving in Japan, the natives combined Buddhism with the traditional mythological religion called Shinto ( the ancient‘way of the gods’) and show their reverence to hemp. 

After visiting Japan, one will find the relation between cannabis and Shinto can be found in the history of Japan’s holiest shrine,  Ise Shrine, where cannabis was once used in an amulet called “Jingu Taima,” or shrine cannabis.

The tradition at the August O Bon festival involves the practice of letting offerings to put ancestor’s favorite foods on the grave to purify or satisfy their immortal soul. In the past, hemp leaves were also in this ritual.

All in all, cannabis use can trace back to the neolithic period in Japan. The long history of hemp use gives the Japanese a tolerant attitude to CBD ( industrial hemp extraction) legalization.

This article is issued by International Hemp Association. For further information, please check out International Hemp Association.

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Jane Yang
Author Bio
Jane Yang, master of TCSOL, editor of VAPEBIZ.NET.


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