On July 25, 2023, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan released a ministerial ordinance categorizing THCH as a designated drug. The ordinance will come into effect on August 4, 2023, ten days after the date of promulgation of the ordinance. After the enforcement, the manufacture, import, sale, possession, use, etc. of products containing THCH for purposes other than medical treatment, etc. will be prohibited in Japan.

Japan is notorious for its strict drug laws. This is despite a wave of legalization around the world of some recreational drugs, after dozens of studies have proven their potential positive benefits. Growing, selling and possessing any amount of marijuana is illegal in Japan. Some cannabinoids like THC are also illegal, even after they are extracted from the cannabis plant. There are, however, other cannabinoids — like cannabidiol (or CBD) — that are permitted, offering a haven of alternatives for residents and travelers to enjoy.

According to Statistica, the retail value of cannabidiol products in Japan exceeded ¥18 billion in 2021, and the CBD market is expected to reach a value of almost ¥83 billion by 2025. You can find CBD products sold by over 500 brands and retailers in Japan, including vape pens, oils, creams and some coffees and teas. Launched in 2020, Chillaxy was an early player in the now-booming CBD industry and is quickly becoming one of its most established producers and sellers. 

Chillaxy’s new Asakusa shop

A New Look for CBD in Japan

While many Japanese CBD brands operate through e-commerce sites, Chillaxy seeked to provide a physical home for CBD culture in Japan. Their Asakusa dispensary, located just a block away from Senso-ji’s Kaminarimon Gate, encourages customers to stop by and relax as they look through and try Chillaxy’s range of products.

More than CBD itself, Chillaxy Founder Toshiki Inoue believes it’s important to also import weed culture. Inspired by the coffee shops of the Netherlands and higher-end dispensaries in the U.S., he wanted to create a space where people can browse, learn about and enjoy CBD safely and at their own pace. It’s all about creating a cozy atmosphere. “I see [CBD] as a way of recreation,” says Inoue.

“A lot of Japanese people have a negative image [of CBD],” he continues. “It’s easier for people to just try it than to read a lot about it.” Often, he explains, people are curious and want to try before purchasing.

Chillaxy’s branding goes against everything you might expect from a traditional dispensary: The walls are painted a cool, pastel pink and deep navy, and their logo features a very relaxed owl. Chillaxy’s original line of products, which includes CBD oils, vape cartridges, coffee and balms, to name a few, has a clean packaging design, reminiscent of natural cosmetic brands.

Inoue is also trying to combat the misinformation about CBD in Japan. The biggest misconception is that CBD is an alternative to THC, sometimes with the connotation of being a less desirable option. “Even within these legal cannabinoid compounds, there are psychoactives,” explain Inoue. “And some of these psychoactives are perfectly legal in Japan because they fall under the general category of CBD.”

Some of Chillaxy’s products use these psychoactive composites as their main ingredient and because of that, Inoue says they can sometimes have strong effects, which may offer the alternative impact many customers are looking for. Whatever you’re looking for, whether it is the touted calming benefits of CBD or fragrant skincare products — or just a cool place to hang out end explore the world of CBD, Chillaxy is a great place to start.

Starting Your CBD Journey

If you’re unsure of where to begin your CBD journey, Inoue recommends starting small and adjusting as you go. There are various ways of ingesting CBD, though vaping and oils are probably the most popular. For most initiates, edibles like oils and gummies might be the most comfortable place to start. CBD creams and balms can help with skin or muscle inflammation.

Ultimately, CBD culture is about community, which is something many Japanese CBD brands fail to translate into their business. For Chillaxy, their physical dispensaries aren’t just to sell products, they serve as a hub for like-minded people from all over the world. 

“The Asakusa store is a really good chilling spot,” says Inoue. With a few seats and a balcony, the Chillaxy dispensary is ambitious to show the true versatility and potential of CBD by introducing new ways to enjoy it. “[It’s] something that you only see on TV,” the founder continues. “You’d never imagine people in Japan using [CBD] like that.”


Chillaxy’s Harajuku location, which features a sleek CBD vending machine, doesn’t have much space but would be a good fit for travelers on the go. On the dispensary’s wall, a vibrant mural of a smoking frog by artist Shiina doubles as a popular photo spot, though Inoue emphasizes that this mural and artist really embody the brand. In contrast, their Yokohama store is more targeted to locals, though CBD enthusiasts and curious shoppers are welcome to all three stores.

Chillaxy’s website also houses a wealth of information on using CBD and Chillaxy products for those who want to dig in deep and explore this facet of weed culture. However, the best way to get a real feel for Chillaxy and its products is to head to one of their dispensaries, ask their knowledgeable staff some questions and try a few samples. The newest dispensary just opened in Minato ward, just a five-minute walk from Azabu-Juban Station (a new store was also opened in Shinjuku). 

For more information about Chillaxy’s Tokyo and Kanagawa stores and their product lineup, visit the official Chillaxy website