CLN contributor Cheddar was in Japan checking out Magokoro, a small restaurant in Kamakura, a city famous for its giant Buddha statue that’s located less than an hour south of Tokyo. What makes it unique is that Magokoro is one of the only restaurants in Japan that specializes in hemp.
Magokoro is a cafe/bar during the day that becomes more of a pub at night with a nice view of the ocean, but beautiful scenery aside, it’s what’s in the restaurant that makes it really stand out- it’s packed with products made with hemp like chips, concrete, blocks, paper, accessories, knit caps, pasta, and powder.
Even the restaurant’s ceiling has been made with hemp concrete!
Magokoro also has CBD products, which is legal in Japan, and books on cannabis and hemp.
Magokoro’s delicious hemp-infused Japanese food
After the restaurant tour, it’s time to eat as Cheddar chows down on a delicious meal of hemp-infused goodness that included fried salmon shark with hemp nuts, tofu mayonnaise with hemp oil, steamed rice with hemp charcoal, coleslaw with hemp oil dressing, hemp-mashed potato and lentils, and so much more.
Maybe you noticed that every dish had one thing in common- hemp! And that’s why it’s Magokoro’s specialty.
After eating, Cheddar interviews the manager of Magokoro, Shinji.
An interview with Shinji, Magokoro’s manager
Magokoro was opened to spread awareness of hemp products in Japan, and the name “Magokoro” combines the characters for “hemp” and “heart” which also serves as the restaurant’s concept.
Shinji tells Cheddar about why he believes that “food is medicine”, and how his philosophy is informed by his background in naturopathy and chiropractic. He points out that humans have been eating hemp seeds for thousands of year, and outlines what he calls the “4 kinds of OG hemp foods”:
- Hemp nuts
- Hemp oil
- Hemp charcoal
- Hemp powder
He focuses on fresh, locally harvested produce that reflects Japan’s seasonal changes, and while hemp is present in all of the dishes served at Magokoro, it’s not the main star- Shinji sees hemp as the support, and that’s why he adds hemp oil or nuts to almost everything that he eats.
The future of Japanese cannabis lies in the past
Shinji has been a Japanese cannabis activist for over 16 years, and he says that something that he thinks people often forget about cannabis is that it’s just a plant.
Society’s attitudes towards hemp and cannabis are also ever-evolving, as Shinji points out that before WWII, there were over 40,000 hemp farmers in Japan and back then, there was literally hemp all around you.
He thinks that for the future, Japan should focus on domestic hemp production and to do that, the Japanese government has to start allowing farmers to grow hemp. But Japan is also facing unique demographic changes, as the population in rural areas of Japan are rapidly decreasing due to factors like an aging population and migration to the cities.
Shinji says that for hemp’s future, we can also look into the past and gives 3 examples of how hemp has played a large part in Japanese culture- from the Shinto priests at the Ise Shrine making talismans out of hemp, to high-ranking sumo wrestlers wearing ceremonial belts made from processed hemp, to Japanese fireworks containing hemp charcoal.
Shinji also wants to make it easier for the average Japanese to incorporate hemp cooking into their lives because many don’t know where to start, and he has an excellent idea of adding a little hemp oil to miso paste so everybody can make hemp miso soup in the comfort of their own homes.
For more on Magokoro, check out their Facebook page here.