Japanese Kiseru Cannabis Pipe

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Contrary to Japan’s image as a country without a cannabis culture, prior to 1945 an extensive hemp industry had existed for centuries, and the fact of herb smoking is evidenced indelibly by the existance and production to this day of the kiseru pipe.


A man smoking a kiseru. Illustration of the cover of the novel Komon gawa (“Elegant chats on fabric design”) by Santō Kyōden, 1790.

While current manufacturers advertise the kiseru as a tobacco pipe, images of Geiko smoking ganja in kiseru pipes in Heian period woodblock prints indicate their original usage. When the United States imposed its legal system on a defeated Japan following World War II, the prohibition of hemp was one of the first edicts.