The Hemp Kimono

One of the most recognised items of clothing from Japan is the Kimono. It has a long traditional history but did you know, that it was introduced by the Chinese to Japan in the Yamato period (300 – 710CE)?

The three types of kimonos worn with the changing seasons are:

Awase: Worn from October to May.
Hitoe: Worn from June to September.
Usumono: Worn from July to August.

The Usumono Kimono is traditionally made from hemp. The months of July and August are notoriously humid in Japan and a Hemp Kimono is breathable, and also absorbs moisture, keeping the fabric cool.

Although the Kimono is no longer an everyday choice in Japan, this traditional outfit is still worn for special occasions such as summer festivals, weddings, funerals, and tea ceremonies.

Hemp Kimono Fabric

A close-up of the woven hemp fibers from the Kimono on display in the Cannabis Museum Amsterdam

Hemp production in Japan

Samples of hemp have been found in Japan dating back to the Jomon period (4000 BC to 400 BC). Jomon people wore clothes made from hemp and also used the fibers to make bow strings and fishing lines.

During the Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD), Emperor Jinmu ordered the entire country to plant and cultivate hemp for production!

Hemp was still being produced legally in Japan right up until the end of World War II when the U.S. authorities that then occupied Japan, enforced the American attitude towards hemp that had seen it outlawed in the United States in 1937.

This is why In July of 1948, the Cannabis Control Act was enforced — This law still remains the basis of the anti-cannabis policy in Japan today.

Japan still produces hemp today, but it is under the strict rules set out by the Cannabis Control Act. Licensed cannabis farms can grow a low-THC strain called Tochigi Shiro which was first developed in the postwar period.

Hemp Farming