Toking up may be strictly forbidden in Japan, thanks to our county’s hyper strict five-year prison sentence for possession, or the seven year sentence for growing. A recent AFP piece via the The Japan Times warns about the “five fold psychosis risk” that users face… (Might some of the media be part of a cannabis curbing conspiracy? Or is this reporter just paranoid from his, ahem, “research” for this article?).

The government’s staunch stance against drugs, and the ensuing public stigma, has led to a host of bizarre instances—from a pandemic of cannabis plants growing wild in Hokkaido—and criminally unsmoked—because of the legal risks, to one of the most famous stoners of all time, Sir Paul McCartney, being arrested in Japan in 1980—according to the Telegraph for possessing half a pound (225g) of marijuana in his luggage (the Japanese government’s anti-marijuana brainwashing seems to have since gotten to Macca, who now swears off the sweet leaf in order to “set an example” for his grand kids, or something equally ungroovy).

Potheads may deem Japan’s longstanding drug attitudes to be old-fashioned, if not downright draconian, but those stoners would truly trip out after hearing about the Asian nation’s earlier mindset about marijuana.

The story begins with ninjas getting high, literally, as they practiced leaping over pot plants. According to the website Whaxy, would-be THC historian Junichi Takayasu first read about this zany martial arts practice in a picture book as a boy, prompting him to tell his mother: “Every day they (the ninjas) had to leap higher and higher because cannabis grows very quickly. I was so amazed that I told my mom I wanted to grow cannabis when I was older.”

But Takayasu didn’t just stop at growing or leaping over those plants. He went so far as to study the strain’s history in depth, and open up a museum dedicated to its once prominent place in Japanese society.

The research he conducted before opening the facility unveiled truly mindblowing details. He didn’t find narratives about stereotypically lazy stoners, as depicted in modern media. Instead he came across documentation of a highly durable strain of hemp used not only to make clothes (like today) but also bowstrings and fishing lines. It was also used in Rasta like fashion by followers of the ancient Japanese religion of Shintoism, which decreed that weed had cleansing and ghost busting capabilities (although their scribes phrased it far more eloquently than this burn out of a reporter ever could).

The highly (ahem) compelling Whaxy article can be read in its entirety here.

—Kyle Mullin

Image: Sebra /