Guide to Tokyo – Cointelegraph Magazine

This “Crypto City” 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 you could find blockchain training programs — and there’s even a brief historical past with all of the juicy particulars of well-known controversies and collapses.


Fast information

City: Tokyo

Country: Japan

Population: 14M

Founded: 1603

Language: Japanese


The largest 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 stunned at Tokyo’s huge — but practically completely on time — a transit system that may carry them from Narita Airport all the way in which to the southern metropolis of Kagoshima inside a day.

Before turning into the high-tech trendy metropolis it grew to be within the Nineteen Seventies and ‘80s, Tokyo started as a small fishing village named Edo. The shogun — essentially the highest leader in Japan, whose influence rivaled the emperor’s — established a army authorities within the space within the early seventeenth century. However, the town acquired its namesake because the “eastern capital” firstly of the interval often called the Meiji Restoration, when the imperial capital in Kyoto was moved to Edo.

Tokyo has been residence to two summer time Olympics in 1964 and 2021 and hosts sumo tournaments, baseball video games and worldwide conferences as well as to being the setting of flicks like Godzilla, Kill Bill, You Only Live Twice, and plenty of others. Though usually portrayed within the media as a homogeneous tradition of individuals packed tightly collectively, plenty of overseas nationals reside in Tokyo’s 23 wards with a wide range of political viewpoints alongside their Japanese neighbors.

Many think about 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. Children with profitable jobs usually stay with, or home, their dad and mom for many years, and the work tradition — whereas seemingly geared 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 individuals had been non-Japanese residents, however there are reviews the share 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 fee and underrepresentation from ladies in authorities and enterprise.





Crypto tradition

Despite 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. While 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 nations to recognize digital currencies as legal property underneath its present regulatory framework. According to the organizer of the Tokyo Bitcoin Hackers group, an American residing in Japan often called Wiz, “the markets were crazy” in 2017 and token tasks attracted plenty of consideration from Japanese buyers.

At the time, the federal government required crypto exchanges and brokers to register with the nation’s Financial Services Agency, with Kraken not assembly the necessities and being pressured to shutter operations till late 2020. Tokyo has been residence to many exchanges, together with the Mt. Gox (now defunct), bitFlyer, Liquid, Coincheck and even Binance’s places of work briefly earlier than the main trade relocated to Malta.


“Meetups were very popular with lots of newbies wandering in, and mainstream media like NHK and TV Tokyo news crews would show up at the meetups with big video cameras and want to interview people and ask them silly questions like ‘how many Bitcoin do you own?’”

Another Meetup group, Bitcoin Tokyo, repeatedly gathered at completely different venues throughout the Roppongi, Shibuya and Akasaka districts, residence to a number of the first bars to host crypto ATMs and accept payments in Bitcoin beginning in 2013. Roger Ver, the CEO of who moved to Japan in 2005, was the preliminary organizer of Bitcoin Tokyo which met from 2011 till 2018.

Although many overseas athletes had been allowed to enter Japan for the 2020 Olympics that had been held this 12 months, there isn’t any timeline for figuring out when short-term guests shall 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 Internet of Things Conference 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.



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Tokyo streets at evening  (



Projects and firms

In the personal sector, as within the United States, many main Japanese firms are looking for methods to give buyers publicity to crypto with out incurring the wrath of regulators. Financial conglomerate SBI Holdings is reportedly planning to set up one of the first crypto funds in Japan, and this 12 months the Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank launched an asset-backed securities token in partnership with Securitize. U.S.-based crypto trade Coinbase ​​launched a collection of retail buying and selling merchandise for Japanese customers in 2021 and monetary big SBI Group is the father or mother firm for crypto buying and selling platforms together with TaoTao and B2C2.





Japan’s Financial Services Agency has approved 31 registered crypto exchanges within the nation, lots of that are headquartered in Tokyo. These embody Quoine, Huobi Japan, GMO Coin, bitFlyer, Liquid, BTCBOX, Bitpoint, bitbank, SBI VC Trade and Coincheck. Though the company has robust regulatory necessities for the crypto business in Japan, it has additionally launched the Blockchain Governance Initiative Network. The mission is geared toward driving the event of the blockchain sector by open-source information sharing.

Other tasks that will have a future in Tokyo embody blockchain-based funds agency Ripple Labs. The firm’s management has hinted it will consider relocating outside the United States and Japan was within the working for a attainable headquarters.

Should Ripple determine to transfer, the corporate might share the area with LayerX, a Japanese agency answerable for the event of a blockchain-based voting system as well as to working with different firms for blockchain options. The blockchain arm of Japan-based trade bitFlyer at present affords consulting, Blockchain-as-a-Service, Joint Business, miyabi Core and RegTech providers, in addition to launching its personal initiatives for blockchain-based voting solutions at firm shareholder conferences.



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The well-known bullet trains (



Financial infrastructure

In 2014, the primary Robocoin Bitcoin ATM in Tokyo was put in at The Pink Cow, a bar and restaurant in Roppongi. The space is common amongst many overseas residents and guests for its nightlife and continues to be one of many extra prominently pro-crypto districts by way of accepting tokens. Though there are at present 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.




Where can I spend crypto?

Until very just lately, Japan was largely a cash-only society, with bank card funds restricted to primarily high-end eating places and inns. Bank transfers are nonetheless extensively required for providers — and may even demand clients fax within the paperwork — however these practices are slowly fading as new applied sciences acquire extra of a foothold.

In Tokyo, digital big Bic Camera at present permits retail clients to spend up to 100,000 yen — roughly $911 — in Bitcoin utilizing the fee app from cryptocurrency trade platform BitFlyer. Aside from the main retail shops, many eating places and bars within the space together with Two Dogs Taproom, Dot & Blue, Irish Pub Craic, Dot Raw and Y2T Stand settle for Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash. Though the Bitcoin ATM at The Pink Cow now not exists, crypto remains to be welcome as a medium of trade for meals and drinks, as it’s on the ramen store Jinanbou.

According to Coinmap, there are 116 stores within the Tokyo space that settle for crypto.

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



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Tokyo Skytree, Sumida Ward (




The University of Tokyo at present affords a course on innovation in blockchain at its graduate faculty of engineering which is scheduled to run till Oct. 31, 2021, whereas the Tokyo Institute of Technology offers training on crypto and blockchain inside present programs at its faculty of computing. In addition, Ripple Labs has partnered with Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo as a part of its University Blockchain Research 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 planet, Mt. Gox. Launched in 2010 by programmer Jed McCaleb and later bought by developer Mark Karpelès, the trade 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.





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

“The first front-page news event about Bitcoin was the Mt. Gox bankruptcy,” mentioned Wiz. “At that time, people got a very negative image of Bitcoin. After that, during the 2017 bubble, people felt comfortable to gamble because the Japanese government had regulated exchanges, and many of them were large well-known Japanese companies operating them, so they felt comfortable to trade on them.”

Other main Tokyo-based exchanges have equally been mired in controversy. In 2018, hackers stole roughly $60 million in crypto from the Zaif Exchange, 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 accordance 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 online 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 CoinSubmit; Tetsuyuki Oishi, accelerator and evangelist for crypto and blockchain; Taisuke Horitsugi, evangelist at Kyber Network; Kabosu, the Shiba Inu featured within the meme on which Dogecoin was based mostly. Cointelegraph group members based mostly in Tokyo: Yoshihisa Takahashi, Wataru Miura and Hose Mitamura.

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


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