Guide to Tokyo – Cointelegraph Magazine

This “Crypto Metropolis” information seems at Tokyo’s crypto tradition, the town’s most notable tasks and other people, its monetary infrastructure at which retailers settle for crypto and the place yow will discover blockchain schooling programs — and there’s even a brief historical past with all of the juicy particulars of well-known controversies and collapses.


Quick details

Metropolis: Tokyo

Nation: Japan

Inhabitants: 14M

Based: 1603

Language: Japanese


The most important metropolis in Japan — truly an amalgamation of 23 completely different wards — is well-known for its quirky cafes, well-known nightlife, and that blend of contemporary and historic which continues to make the nation a preferred draw for vacationers. Many guests from world wide are sometimes shocked at Tokyo’s large — but almost completely on time — a transit system that may carry them from Narita Airport all the best way to the southern metropolis of Kagoshima inside a day.

Earlier than turning into the high-tech trendy metropolis it grew to be within the Seventies and ‘80s, Tokyo began as a small fishing village named Edo. The shogun — primarily the best chief in Japan, whose affect rivaled the emperor’s — established a army authorities within the space within the early seventeenth century. Nevertheless, the town acquired its namesake because the “japanese capital” at first of the interval often called the Meiji Restoration, when the imperial capital in Kyoto was moved to Edo.

Tokyo has been dwelling to 2 summer season Olympics in 1964 and 2021 and hosts sumo tournaments, baseball video games and worldwide conferences along with being the setting of films like Godzilla, Kill Invoice, You Solely Die Twice, and plenty of others. Although typically portrayed within the media as a homogeneous tradition of individuals packed tightly collectively, plenty of international nationals reside in Tokyo’s 23 wards with a wide range of political viewpoints alongside their Japanese neighbors.

Many take into account Japan as a rustic with a social system of insiders and outsiders, permeating each facet of life within the nation, from time with households to the authorized system. Youngsters with profitable jobs typically dwell with, or home, their mother and father for many years, and the work tradition — whereas seemingly aimed toward selling a way of camaraderie — has been criticized for exceptionally lengthy hours, few holidays and an inflexibility for options exterior of the field.

Even earlier than the pandemic shut Japan’s borders to most non permanent guests, lower than 3% of the nation’s 126 million folks have been non-Japanese residents, however there are stories the proportion could also be 3 times bigger in Tokyo. The nation faces challenges together with a rising getting older inhabitants, courts with an unrealistically excessive conviction charge and underrepresentation from ladies in authorities and enterprise.





Crypto tradition

Regardless of the etymology of Satoshi Nakamoto, specialists and investigators haven’t definitively confirmed the legendary Bitcoin creator was Japanese — although they claimed to have lived within the nation. Whereas the seek for Satoshi continues (and it’s unlikely to be Dorian Nakamoto, the person most pictured), Japan has been a preferred place for crypto conferences and meetups.





Japan was one of many first international locations to acknowledge digital currencies as authorized property beneath its current regulatory framework. In keeping with the organizer of the Tokyo Bitcoin Hackers group, an American dwelling in Japan often called Wiz, “the markets have been loopy” in 2017 and token tasks attracted a whole lot of consideration from Japanese buyers.

On the time, the federal government required crypto exchanges and brokers to register with the nation’s Monetary Companies Company, with Kraken not assembly the necessities and being pressured to shutter operations till late 2020. Tokyo has been dwelling to many exchanges, together with the Mt. Gox (now defunct), bitFlyer, Liquid, Coincheck and even Binance’s workplaces briefly earlier than the main change relocated to Malta.


“Meetups have been very fashionable with numerous newbies wandering in, and mainstream media like NHK and TV Tokyo information crews would present up on the meetups with huge video cameras and wish to interview folks and ask them foolish questions like ‘what number of Bitcoin do you personal?’”

One other Meetup group, Bitcoin Tokyo, commonly gathered at completely different venues throughout the Roppongi, Shibuya and Akasaka districts, dwelling to a number of the first bars to host crypto ATMs and settle for funds in Bitcoin beginning in 2013. Roger Ver, the CEO of Bitcoin.com who moved to Japan in 2005, was the preliminary organizer of Bitcoin Tokyo which met from 2011 till 2018.

Though many international athletes have been allowed to enter Japan for the 2020 Olympics that have been held this yr, there is no such thing as a timeline for figuring out when short-term guests will likely be as soon as once more in a position to attend in-person crypto and blockchain conferences in Japan. Tokyo is scheduled to host the TEAMZ Blockchain Summit and the Blockchain and Web of Issues Convention in 2022, however the metropolis has been out and in of a state of emergency because the pandemic began, making it unlikely for teams to collect anytime quickly.



Tokyo streets at night time  (Pexels.com)



Tasks and corporations

Within the non-public sector, as in the US, many main Japanese corporations are looking for methods to offer buyers publicity to crypto with out incurring the wrath of regulators. Monetary conglomerate SBI Holdings is reportedly planning to arrange one of many first crypto funds in Japan, and this yr the Sumitomo Mitsui Belief Financial institution launched an asset-backed securities token in partnership with Securitize. U.S.-based crypto change Coinbase ​​launched a collection of retail buying and selling merchandise for Japanese customers in 2021 and monetary large SBI Group is the mum or dad firm for crypto buying and selling platforms together with TaoTao and B2C2.





Japan’s Monetary Companies Company has authorized 31 registered crypto exchanges within the nation, lots of that are headquartered in Tokyo. These embrace Quoine, Huobi Japan, GMO Coin, bitFlyer, Liquid, BTCBOX, Bitpoint, bitbank, SBI VC Commerce and Coincheck. Although the company has robust regulatory necessities for the crypto business in Japan, it has additionally launched the Blockchain Governance Initiative Community. The mission is aimed toward driving the event of the blockchain sector by way of open-source info sharing.

Different tasks that will have a future in Tokyo embrace blockchain-based funds agency Ripple Labs. The corporate’s management has hinted it will take into account relocating exterior the US and Japan was within the operating for a attainable headquarters.

Ought to Ripple resolve to maneuver, the corporate might share the house with LayerX, a Japanese agency liable for the event of a blockchain-based voting system along with working with different corporations for blockchain options. The blockchain arm of Japan-based change bitFlyer at the moment gives consulting, Blockchain-as-a-Service, Joint Enterprise, miyabi Core and RegTech providers, in addition to launching its personal initiatives for blockchain-based voting options at firm shareholder conferences.



The well-known bullet trains (Pexels.com)



Monetary infrastructure

In 2014, the primary Robocoin Bitcoin ATM in Tokyo was put in at The Pink Cow, a bar and restaurant in Roppongi. The realm is widespread amongst many international residents and guests for its nightlife and continues to be one of many extra prominently pro-crypto districts by way of accepting tokens. Although there are at the moment no crypto ATMs working in Japan following stricter laws, some companies across the metropolis’s 23 wards do settle for crypto funds for items and providers.




The place can I spend crypto?

Till very lately, Japan was largely a cash-only society, with bank card funds restricted to primarily high-end eating places and accommodations. Financial institution transfers are nonetheless extensively required for providers — and would possibly even demand prospects fax within the paperwork — however these practices are slowly fading as new applied sciences acquire extra of a foothold.

In Tokyo, digital large Bic Digital camera at the moment permits retail prospects to spend as much as 100,000 yen — roughly $911 — in Bitcoin utilizing the fee app from cryptocurrency change platform BitFlyer. Apart from the main retail shops, many eating places and bars within the space together with Two Canines Taproom, Dot & Blue, Irish Pub Craic, Dot Uncooked and Y2T Stand settle for Bitcoin or Bitcoin Money. Although the Bitcoin ATM at The Pink Cow not exists, crypto remains to be welcome as a medium of change for meals and drinks, as it’s on the ramen store Jinanbou.

In keeping with Coinmap, there are 116 stores within the Tokyo space that settle for crypto.

Some figures inside the Japanese authorities have expressed curiosity in creating a digital yen for funds and cross-border transactions, however the nation has but to kind out many particulars. The Financial institution of Japan initially introduced plans to develop a CBDC in October 2020 and launched its first part of a pilot program in April 2021.



Tokyo Skytree, Sumida Ward (Pexels.com)




The College of Tokyo at the moment gives a course on innovation in blockchain at its graduate college of engineering which is scheduled to run till Oct. 31, 2021, whereas the Tokyo Institute of Expertise supplies schooling on crypto and blockchain inside current programs at its college of computing. As well as, Ripple Labs has partnered with Kyoto College and the College of Tokyo as a part of its College Blockchain Analysis Initiative, offering sources to college students to help business analysis.

Controversies and collapses

The Shibuya district of Tokyo was as soon as the house of one of many largest Bitcoin exchanges on the earth, Mt. Gox. Launched in 2010 by programmer Jed McCaleb and later bought by developer Mark Karpelès, the change was the goal of two main hacks in 2011 and 2014. Mt. Gox subsequently collapsed in early 2014, ensuing within the lack of 850,000 BTC, roughly $460 million on the time.





Nonetheless within the means of refunding the change’s purchasers, the Mt. Gox saga has not fully ended. In 2018, the Tokyo District Courtroom authorized a petition for the change to start civil rehabilitation, and collectors are aiming to vote on a compensation plan beginning in October 2021. Authorities finally acquitted Karpelès of embezzlement costs associated to the change however discovered him responsible of altering monetary data.

“The primary front-page information occasion about Bitcoin was the Mt. Gox chapter,” mentioned Wiz. “At the moment, folks bought a really unfavorable picture of Bitcoin. After that, in the course of the 2017 bubble, folks felt comfy to gamble as a result of the Japanese authorities had regulated exchanges, and plenty of of them have been massive well-known Japanese corporations working them, so that they felt comfy to commerce on them.”

Different main Tokyo-based exchanges have equally been mired in controversy. In 2018, hackers stole roughly $60 million in crypto from the Zaif Alternate, whereas a separate group eliminated greater than $500 million value of NEM from Coincheck’s wallets, one of many largest crypto thefts by worth on the time.



The Shiba Inu behind the famed Doge meme is a Tokyo resident.



Notable figures in Japan and former residents

Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto (perhaps, in response to him); Mark Karpelès head of Mt. Gox; Kim Nilsson, developer behind the investigation of Mt. Gox’s lacking Bitcoin; Noriyuki Hirosue, founder and CEO of bitbank; Yuzo Kano, founder and CEO of bitFlyer; Mai Fujimoto, founder and CEO of blockchain and crypto consultancy agency Gracone, also referred to as “Miss Bitcoin”; Tomoyuki Tagami, CEO of crypto and blockchain on-line studying service Techtec; Yoshinori Fukushima, CEO of LayerX; Shogo Ochiai, co-founder and chief expertise officer of Cryptoeconomics Lab; Takahito Kagami, CEO of crypto and blockchain media outlet CoinPost; Tetsuyuki Oishi, accelerator and evangelist for crypto and blockchain; Taisuke Horitsugi, evangelist at Kyber Community; Kabosu, the Shiba Inu featured within the meme on which Dogecoin was primarily based. Cointelegraph crew members primarily based in Tokyo: Yoshihisa Takahashi, Wataru Miura and Hose Mitamura.

Momentary residents of Japan whereas concerned within the crypto house: Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, Mt. Gox and Ripple founder Jed McCaleb, Bitcoin govt chair Roger Ver.


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