Spain Hemp Museum Unveils New Japanese-Themed Exhibit

The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum of Barcelona in Spain recently announced the opening of its newest exhibit, entitled “Cannabis Japonica,” which is defined as a “fashionable journey through Japan’s cultural ties with the cannabis plant.”
Spain
Courtesy of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum / Floris Leeuwenberg

The exhibit will be on display following its opening on May 12 through February 2023, and marks a 10th anniversary celebration. Those who live in the neighboring area or are planning a vacation to Spain could slate a few hours on their trip to check out this fascinating collection.

One of the exhibit’s displays tells how ninjas in training would plant a batch of hemp and strive to jump over it every day to improve their jumping skills. Toward the end of the growing season, the ninjas would be able to leap over their hemp plants, which can grow up to three or for meters (approximately between 9-13 feet for American customary units).

“This children’s story is a testament to a time when cannabis was ‘big in Japan’. As spring approached, each rural household would plant four to five furrows of hemp seeds. The cultivated hemp was the family’s main source of fibre, used to weave cloth,” the museum writes on its website. “It was also an important source of income, as city merchants would buy the finer hemp fibres. This silk-like hemp was used to create the most precious clothing, from summer kimonos to samurai attire and the garments of Shinto priests. Every aspect of work involving hemp, from planting to weaving, was women’s labour. This continued throughout the Meiji era, when Japan quickly became an industrialized empire.”

The exhibit teases unique hemp-related haiku poetry from 120 years ago.

gentle rain in the
city carries sunset smell
and the hemp reaping
-Haiku master Masaoka Shiki, 1895.

It also showcases ancient Japanese hemp clothing samples and important artifacts in display cases. This fascinating display is one of a kind, and allows attendees to get a rare first-hand look at the history of hemp as its rich influence on life in 18th century Japan.

Today, Japan’s laws regarding cannabis are much stricter. Although the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, recently met to discuss lifting the ban on medical cannabis, the government is far from embracing legalization. This isn’t the first time government officials have begun to see the benefits of medical cannabis. Back in 2015, Japan’s “First Lady,” Akie Abe, expressed her desire to see the country’s hemp industry return to its former glory.

Japan’s hemp prohibition mirrors that of the United States, which was likely influenced by American occupation in the 1940s. Kyodo News reports that 5,482 people violated the country’s cannabis law in 2021, (4,537 for possession, 273 for illegal sales, and 230 for illegal cultivation).

Youth cannabis consumption in Japan is also a major concern, and has led to popular video game company Capcom to let Japanese police use its characters from The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles to sway consumption by minors.

But yet, cannabis advocates remain. There’s one hemp museum in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture owned by Junichi Takayasu, a local expert on cannabis and its role in Japan’s history.

“Most Japanese people see cannabis as a subculture of Japan but they’re wrong,” Takayasu told The Japan Times in an exclusive 2012 interview. “Cannabis has been at the very heart of Japanese culture for thousands of years.”

Ten years ago, Takayasu expressed his hope that the future is bright for hemp in Japan. “Japanese people have a negative view of cannabis but I want them to understand the truth and I want to protect its history,” he said. “The more we learn about the past, the more hints we might be able to get about how to live better in the future.”

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