Bebe Taian: Boushu: Grain in Ear

June 5, 2012

Boushu: Grain in Ear

Boushu means "grain in ear", when grains are beginning to grown awns, or whisker-like growths. We're nearly halfway through Summer now, but things are only just beginning to heat up!

Grains growing now are probably winter-planted, as it can take rice and wheat 5-6 months to reach maturity. Then, in some cases, the rice fields can be flooded to yield a second crop by November.

Kimono in this season should be unlined (hitoe) but not transparent, like ro or sha fabrics. Keep them as lightweight as possible, and cool colours are preferred. The idea is to inspire a feeling of 'coldness' on the most humid of days. Obi should be unlined, and your juban can be unlined and sheer, if you like. If you wear a haori, go for sheer or lace items!

This fabric of this kimono is illegal to produce in America.
I prefer hemp for this weather, but real asa is kind of hard to get now that it's illegal to grow in most places. It's a shame; hemp is indispensable as a resource- it grows remarkably quickly, it's incredibly strong and durable when made into ropes or fabrics (and not uncomfortable to wear at all!), it can be easily made into paper, and it's leaves are often medicinal. Hemp oil is wonderful for the skin and hair, and the seeds are high in essential fatty acids and B-12s!

For those who do not know, hemp is a member of the plant Cannabis Sativa. Yep. There is your political reason for it not being used right there... even though hemp itself comes from a relatively low-THC strain, meaning that is has no value as a drug, as opposed to the strain marijuana comes from, which is high in THC. ::facepalm:: We could partially solve issues with deforestation, paper production and consumption, and all kinds of other issues, if only our American government knew enough 3rd grade science to understand the difference between a strain of plant with no psychoactive properties, and a different plant in the same species that does have psychoactive properties. And the whole thing would be a moot point if any of them could read above a 6th grade level (that of a 12 year old), where they would then be able to go through JAMA and numerous other well-founded scientific studies showing that even the psychoactive members of Cannabis have innumerable benefits to very sick people when used properly.

A famous traditional pattern featuring a plant few living
Japanese have ever seen in person.
If you can get a hemp kimono, lucky you! Hemp-growing is now largely banned in Japan, thanks to American involvement after World War 2. There is a small plot of land where hemp is still grown, but it is only to be used for the Imperial Family, as hemp fabrics are sacred in Shinto, and must be worn to attend certain religious rites. Some few people have licenses to grow industrial hemp or psychoactive hemp for research purposes only, but these are very difficult to get and are few and far in between. Traditional spice mixes also included hemp seeds, which probably helped the Japanese stay healthy despite their diet being relatively low in meat. Hemp products are still allowed to be sold in Japan, but they are made of imported materials, mostly from China. Today, if you get caught growing either variety without a license, you are looking at years of jail time or, in foreigner circumstances, deportation. It's a disappointing reality, but it is the truth.

If you would like to make your own kimono from asa fabric, your best bet is to import it from China or one of the small surrounding islands. You can often find it cheaply by the bolt on Ebay. Sometimes it comes dyed, other times, you will have to dye it yourself. Make sure that you inspect the weave and softness beforehand. I have only one asa kimono, which is relatively soft and feels very similar to a thick denim, from late Taisho - early Showa era (before the ban). It is only this piece that I can use to compare 'foreign' hemp fabrics to Japanese fabrics. But as the kimono is nearly 100 years old, I can promise the durability of a hemp kimono makes the expense of owning one well worth it!

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