Despite being the 3rd largest economy in the world, the Bitcoin only scene in Japan is pretty small. Even the wider “crypto” scene is small, with only around 4M Japanese having accounts on “crypto exchanges”, out of a population of 120M. The reasons often put forward are: 1) the language barrier makes it harder for Japanese plebs to get information. 2) Scandals such as Mt. Gox, which was based in Japan, gave Bitcoin a bad image, and 3) in general, people have higher trust in institutions and higher trust in the integrity of the Japanese yen compared to other advanced economies.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s pretty obvious Japan is in dire need of Bitcoin. The debt to GDP is the highest in the world at 263% and with an ongoing deficit of 1/3 of the annual government budget, as well as increasing pressure on the weakening JPY, the debt and currency situation is likely only going to get worse.
Years of Keynesian loose money policies have largely funneled printed money into cantilionare giants , which suck up and largely squander all of the productive assets of the country. Meanwhile the demographic trend will see 40% of the population being over 65 by 2050. Finally, the geopolitical risks of energy dependence on the middle east, and dependence on China as the largest trading partner, leave the wealth and prosperity of Japan is hanging by a thin thread.
The bitcoin heyday—2017 and the blocksize wars.
Japan has a strange connection to Bitcoin. Satoshi chose a Japanese name for his nym, many prominent Bitcoiners live or have lived out here, and the first exchange--Mt. Gox--was founded here. The meetup scene in Japan was also fairly active pre blocksize war. With the likes of Roger Ver based out here, quite a lot of effort was made to promote base layer bitcoin as a means of trade, and several businesses around Japan began accepting bitcoin as payments. The subsequent 2018/19 bear market led to the enthusiasm dwindling, merchants one-by-one gave up on bitcoin (or worst—persisted with bcash) and the Covid pandemic took its toll on what there was remaining of a meetup scene in Japan.
Recent Developments post covid
Thankfully there has been a resurgence of late, and the point of this post is to make people aware of the active groups in Japan, to encourage stackers who are either based in Japan, or who plan to visit Japan, to reach out and get involved. With Nostrasia coming up in November in Tokyo, it is hoped that we can make connections and grow the bitcoin only scene here around that event.
One great thing about this bear market is that there is non of the 2017 era speculative mania around the bitcoin. The suits, scammers, and the stupid have all migrated to Web 3.0. Meanwhile the Web 3.0 events have almost zero to say about Bitcoin. Meaning that we have an almost perfect split of Bitcoin vs "crypto" occurring in Japan. Meaning also that the bitcoin-only groups are very high-signal.
This is the group I co-founded back in early 2022. It is primarily ex-pat and English language, and was born as a Telegram group after the founding members met at a Bitcoin pizza party in spring that year. The focus of the group is privacy, bitcoin, freedom tech, citadel building and circular economy. We have regular meetups, a Podcast, and we are launching a new format of event later this month called “Honeybadger Hiroba” where we will be renting a physical space and combing presentations along with a casual meetup format. The group is run by the plebs for the plebs, is very punk with zero corporate sponsorship. If you would like to get involved, please reach out to the group via the following channels:
Website Meetup.com Honeybadger Hiroba event Podcast Nostr: npub1cl42c2k2j7zw2upef2c2qjpd7sz7ks0r5nkvjag7k86q8zev8l0qwmgf39 Telegram Marketplace (Amazon gift cards, books, courses, coffee for sats. Japan only)
Diamond Hands/ Bitcoiner Hanseikai
Diamond hands is primarily Japanese language and focused on the technical aspects of the Lightning Network, particularity routing nodes. They are also highly professional and technically competent and even have corporate sponsorship and a popular swap services available to the public, among other projects.
Co-founded by Koji Higashi, who also runs the Japanese language YouTube channel “Bitcoiner Hanseikai” (Bitcoin focussed, but does discuss the wider “crypto space”) and the Diamond Hands substack newsletter, which is Bitcoin focused, and has recently launched a paid subscription with the mission of furthering Bitcoin adoption in Japan, by raising the quality of the discussion of a Bitcoin focused mindset.
Diamond Hands Website (English/Japanese) Diamond Hands newsletter (Japanese) Diamond Hands Telegram (Primarily Japanese/English speakers available) Diamond Hands Boltz-based swap service (English) Koji’s website (English) Koji’s YouTube “Bitcoiner Hanseikai” (Japanese)
Lostinbitcoin.jp / Tokyo Bitcoin Hackers
Lostinbitcoin was founded by Teruko Neriki, who translated the Bitcoin Standard and the Bullish Case for Bitcoin into Japanese, and is a regular attendee of Bitcoin conferences all over the world. The site aims to provide high-signal Bitcoin content to a Japanese native audience. The website is high-signal and should probably be the first thing you share with any normie Japanese in your life who you think may benefit from learning more about Bitcoin.
Teruko is also very involved in the Meetup scene in Japan and she co-hosts events along with Mempool Wiz at the OG Meetup “Tokyo Bitcoin Hackers” which hosts high-signal events with many high quality bitcoin builders. The events tends to feature prominent speakers (who are often visiting Japan) but are relatively infrequent as a result. (maybe once every couple of months).
Website: (Japanese) Tokyo Bitcoin Hackers meetup Interview with Teruko (English) The Bitcoin Standard Japanese translation
KYC free scene in Japan
KYC free is not great in Japan, in my experience. Activity on Bisq is low with non existent in-person or cash by mail. ATMs are here but completely KYC-cucked. Incidentally, Japan is the KYC Kingdom and it’s impossible to get a phone number here without KYC and you very often need KYC to stay at individual Airbnb locations. Mining is also expensive with some of the most expensive electricity in the world, and small houses/apartments making noise from miners a real problem. With that said, it is possible to get Azteco vouchers here if you know where to look. There is also some robosats use from what I hear and sometimes people visiting will be looking to sell some sats into the local JPY fiat so it is worth attending meetups regularly for that sort of chance to come up.
The bitcoin only scene is small but high signal and growing. People are pulling their sleeves up and putting in the PoW to promote bitcoin adoption in Japan. We need more plebs to join the mission. If you are in Japan at any point, please join in as many of the groups listed above as possible. If you know people in Japan or have Japanese friends interested in Bitcoin, please send them our way. If you have any questions please post them below and I will do my best to answer within the Japanese time zone. Thank you!