Hemp was used in ancient Japan in ceremonial rights and for purification with and emphasis on driving away evil spirits. In Japan, Shinto priests used a gohei, a short stick with undyed hemp fibers to create sacred space and purity. According to Shinto beliefs, evil and purity cannot exist alongside one another, and so by waving the gohei the evil spirit inside a person or place would be driven away. Clothes made of hemp were especially worn during formal and religious ceremonies because of hemp’s traditional association with purity.
Nowadays, the attitude towards cannabis is quite different. Modern Japan takes a comparatively conservative approach to cannabis use, with a strict no tolerance policy towards marijuana and marijuana products. This is reflective in the percentage of the population that has been reported to ingest cannabis – approximately .1%. Compare that to the United States, which is approximately 13.7%. Keep in mind that these measurements cannot account for the percentage of the population that did not anonymously report their cannabis use. Especially in countries with strict regulations around cannabis, the stimagization and shame of cannabis use can be a profound silencer.
If you are interested in reading more about the percentages of cannabis users in populations around the world, check out the reports from several of the World Drug Reports right here.