I decide soiling my hands

“The book showed how ninjas trained by jumping over cannabis plants,” Takayasu says. “Every day they 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.”

I defy anyone coming across that opening gambit to refrain from reading on. I know I Nibbled it, but the Japan Times article on that country’s history of hemp cultivation and use, which came out a couple of days ago to commemorate 420, is much too good to leave to languish in a sidebar.

Not convinced? How about this?

…the [1948] U.S. decision to prohibit cannabis created panic among Japanese farmers. In an effort to calm their fears, Emperor Hirohito visited Tochigi Prefecture in the months prior to the ban to reassure farmers they would be able to continue to grow in defiance of the new law — a surprisingly subversive statement.

There’s lots more. I have to say, though, that what intrigued me most was this:

As well as references to cannabis plants in ninja training, they also feature in the “Manyoshu” — Japan’s oldest collection of poems — and the Edo Period (1603-1868) book of woodblock prints, “Wakoku Hyakujo.” In haiku poetry, too, key words describing the stages of cannabis cultivation denoted the season when the poem is set.

Researching that bit about haiku led me to what seems to be the mother lode on Japanese hemp culture. Which in turn eventually led me to discover that the Japanese actually have a word for seasonal words, if you see what I mean: kigo. And that there’s a database of kigo, which includes words having to do with hemp, of course. I’ll leave you with a haiku from one of the comments on that indispensable resource; not, I think, an ancient Japanese haiku, but evocative nonetheless, and apposite:

now retired
I decide soiling my hands
cannabis growing

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