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During [the] centuries of fuedal society, a leader emerged named Hideyoshi Toyotomi. He came from a typical village to unite Japan. An account of his growing up goes into some detail on daily life in the 1500's.:
"The village of Nakamura lies in the rich farming country of southwestern Owari in the delta of the Kiso River. Cotton, hemp and rice were cultivated there during Hideyoshi's day by a comparitively well-off community of peasants, many of whom owned their own land."
During the feudal era, hemp cultivation was encouraged by the Daimyo (feudal lords) wanting hempen-ware's high resale value from the wealthy city merchants who favored hemp for making fine clothing. This brought economic strength and power to the Daimyo of the area (who were often in debt to the merchants) (Stearns)...
The merchants again learned the use of money from foreigners. "Merchants dealt not in rice but in coin, and utilized four metals: gold (oban, koban, ichibu kin), silver (chogin, mame-ita, monme), copper (zeni),and iron. They had square holes in the center based on the Chinese system, and were carried on strings of hemp." (Hidden Variable) (note: the 5 yen coins still have a hole in them left over from this practice)...
The hemp cloth industry of Uonuma county in Echigo Province provides an example of a different kind. This industry dated back to at least the Nara period, when taxes were party paid by the cloth. But the industry here acheived no considerable growth until certain innovations in bleaching and weaving were made toward the end of the seventeenth century. After that the output of hemp cloth increased from about five thousand rolls to about two hundred thousand roll annually until the end of the eighteenth century. By this time, local sources of raw material were no longer adequate to supply producers and hemp had to be imported from Aizu and Yonezawa."(Smith)...
Hemp (along with silk for the wealthy Samurai class) was the primary source of clothing fiber until the 17th century when cotton was
introduced. Cotton began to replace hemp as the fiber crop for the new urban working class because of high yields by heavy fertilizer use and development of mass processing methods.(Mayuzumi)
Hemp continued to be used for a variety of specialized purposes, including the straps of geta (high wooden sandals), long-line eel fishing lines and packaging ropes (Mayuzumi), to name few.
-retrieved from Hempen Culture in Japan on August 3, 2012