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A quick overview of Japan’s crypto market

When it comes to cryptocurrency in Asia, one of the biggest players is undoubtedly Japan. The country is considered one of the better crypto hubs on the continent, especially when compared to places like China. As the race for global crypto supremacy continues to heat up, more eyes will inevitably be on Japan. But what exactly is the state of crypto in Japan? And what trajectory is the country on?

One of the first things to note is that crypto is widely used in Japan. There are 3.72 million crypto wallets in Japan as of 2022. And this only seems to be growing as the Blockchain Association of Japan claims that this figure is closer to 6.8 million as of 2023. Either way, cryptocurrency has been embraced by Japanese consumers.

And this large user base has not gone unnoticed by crypto companies, many of whom are opening up shop in Japan or expanding their offerings. Some major projects that operate in Japan include SushiSwap and bitFlyer. Just recently, Binance announced the launch of its Japanese arm with 34 tokens available for spot trading before bumping this number up to 100. Some of these tokens include Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Binance Coin (BNB), Cardano (ADA), and Dogecoin (DOGE).

It is also worth looking into current crypto regulations in Japan. While cryptos are not legal tender or issued by the central bank, they are permitted for use and some commercial Japanese banks have embraced crypto’s underlying technology. Crypto use in the country falls under the jurisdiction of several agencies such as the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA). All exchanges that want to operate in Japan have to register with the FSA and follow all of its guidelines. Crypto income is classified as “miscellaneous income” by Japan’s National Tax Agency and the amount to be paid depends on how much was made through crypto. However, crypto income made from mining and DeFi lending, or trading must be reported to the agency and tax must be paid on it.

And what cryptos are Japanese people buying into? Currently, tokens like XRP and Bitcoin are favoured in Japan, as are others like Ether and Dogecoin. This is mostly unsurprising as these tokens are globally known and have a plethora of use cases. And while there are smaller tokens like MonaCoin that are very popular in Japan, the top tokens still dominate the market.

When Japanese people hold these cryptos, they use them for a wide variety of purposes. Several businesses like Mezzo in Tokyo, Mint, T’s Kitchen, and Dot Raw accept cryptocurrency for their products and services and this fits right in with Japan’s crypto-loving population. Then there is cryptocurrency gambling, which has really taken off in the last few years. Online casinos like those featured in updated lists on are increasingly accepting cryptocurrency. In fact, there is a growing crop of online casinos that only accept crypto for placing bets. And as more Japanese people are embracing crypto, we can only expect these to become more popular.

Japan also looks to be making more strides in supporting the crypto industry on an institutional level. Just a few weeks ago, it was reported that Japan would begin allowing companies to raise funds using crypto instead of stock, which is good news for firms operating in the country.

Japan has shown itself to be a welcoming country for the crypto industry thus far and if it continues on its current trajectory, it can achieve even more in the next few years.

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World Baseball Classic Final - Trout vs Ohtani

It was an ending for the ages. The two very best baseball players of their generation, teammates with the Los Angeles Angels but now facing each in the final that would decide the best team in the world.

In the deciding game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic in Miami last night, centre-fielder and phenomenal power hitter Mike Trout was at the plate with his Team USA 3-2 at the bottom of the ninth inning. Facing him on the mound was Ohtani Shohei, who since moving to the Major Leagues in 2017 has taken the sport by storm as both pitcher and hitter – was there ever a more appropriate nickname than Sho-Time!

It was the kind of matchup and grand finale that TV networks dream about, and it didn’t disappoint, as Ohtani struck out Trout to see Japan crowned as WBC champions for the third time. Watch the highlights of the final here.

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The Kujuku Islands off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture

According to an upcoming report from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, the number of islands that make up the archipelago has increased from the 6,852 in a 1987 survey to the current total of 14,125.

The doubling in the number of islands is the result of many factors. Volcanic activity has indeed led to the creation of new islands. But the more mundane fact is that the change is mainly due to advances in mapping technology since the Japan Coast Guard carried out its previous survey 35 years ago. There’s also the fact that the 1987 survey only included islands with a circumference of at least 100 meters and excluded many islands in lakes and rivers.

Of the 7,000+ new islands, 1,479 are located off Nagasaki Prefecture in the south of Kyushu, one of Japan’s “big 4” islands. Tokyo has been encouraging local governments to give formal names to the many previously unidentified islands.

Setonaikai - Japan's Inland Sea
Setonaikai – Japan’s Inland Sea – is populated with hundreds of islands

None of the new additions are located in the East China Sea, a region where territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands are increasingly contested by the Chinese authorities.

The GIAJ report is expected to be issued in March.

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Monkey Majik - Curtain Call

Popular Japan-based four-piece rock band MONKEY MAJIK recently released their latest album, ‘curtain call’, on January 25. Their 13th full-length studio album explores brand new musical possibilities for the future of MONKEY MAJIK, with 14 songs covering a wide variety of music styles – offering a chance to experience a whole new side to this veteran band as they enter the 23rd year since their formation.

Monkey Majik

With their mix of Japanese and English lyrics and their splicing of rap and pop, this is an album that only MONKEY MAJIK could make. Look out for standout track ‘This Is The Night (MONKEY MAJIK × GAGLE)’, a collaboration with the hip-hop unit GAGLE that embodies MONKEY MAJIK’s borderless style. Meanwhile, the cover artwork expresses the album’s musical breadth, based on the concept of “infinite change”.

The four-piece hybrid rock band based in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, comprises Canadian brothers Maynard (vocals and guitar) and Blaise (vocals and guitar), and Japanese rhythm section TAX (drums) and DICK (bass).

The band released their debut single, fly, in 2006. Since then, they have created countless songs for commercials and theme songs for movies and TV shows, as well as collaborating with and composing songs for other artists. Following the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s Tohoku region, they were appointed Tourism and Goodwill Ambassadors of Tohoku, hosting the earthquake reconstruction support project, SEND Ai, the same year, and holding fundraising concerts and auctions as part of their continuing activities to aid rebuilding in Japan’s Tohoku region. In 2020, they celebrated the 20th anniversary and released the best-of album MONKEY MAJIK BEST -KACHO FUGETSU- in January 2021. They plan to hold a tour of Japan from February titled MONKEY MAJIK LIVE TOUR 2023 ~ THE HITS ~.

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Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman

Tokyo-based guitarist and onetime Megadeth member Marty Friedman has released a new version of his 2018 song ‘The Perfect World’ featuring guest vocals by +α/Alfakyun. The singer, who is famed for her extraordinarily versatile vocal technique and wide register, brings a new interpretation to Friedman’s hit song that will appeal to fans of the original and newcomers alike.

Friedman commented, “There is no limit to +α/Alfakyun.’s voice, and she can do all sorts of things, so we were able to really change the atmosphere of the original.”

‘THE PERFECT WORLD (feat. Alfakyun.)’ music video

‘THE PERFECT WORLD (feat. Alfakyun.)’ is the only track with vocals to be included on Friedman’s otherwise fully instrumental album ‘TOKYO JUKEBOX 3’, which is released on October 21, 2020. The album is the third in Friedman’s series featuring guitar covers of recent Japanese hit songs, and it includes his cover of ‘Gurenge’, the opening theme to globally popular TV anime ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’. As with the other songs on the album, Friedman’s cover of ‘Gurenge’ showcases his uniquely characteristic guitar skills and his creative talent as not only a master musician but also a composer and producer. Friedman’s cover brings a Western twist while retaining the song’s distinctly Japanese flavor, and its video on YouTube has racked up hundreds of thousands of views around the world.

The striking cover photo for ‘TOKYO JUKEBOX 3’ shows Friedman dressed in a kimono, complete with colorful makeup, showcasing Friedman’s unique reinterpretation of Japanese culture while also giving fans a surprising and exciting new look to enjoy.

Having risen to fame as the lead guitarist of legendary heavy metal band Megadeth when it boasted sales of over 13 million albums worldwide in the 1990s, Friedman is now a household name in Japan, with credentials not only in the world of music but also in television, film, literature and commercials. Before moving to Japan in 2004, Friedman taught himself Japanese and famously placed second at Arizona State University’s Japanese Debating Competition. In 2005, he became a regular member on the legendary rock variety program ‘Hebimeta-san’ broadcasted by TV Tokyo, surprising not only heavy metal fans in Japan but also around the world, as videos of his performances surfaced online.

This was followed by regular appearances on the TV show ‘ROCK FUJIYAMA’, which became popular worldwide. Since then, Friedman has appeared in many TV programs from national public broadcaster NHK and other stations, while also contributing as a regular columnist for a magazine and a newspaper. He published his first book, whose title loosely translates as ‘It’s All Good! I Came to Japan for J-pop’, which became a bestseller. He has also made appearances in films such as ‘Gu Gu, the Cat’ and ‘Detroit Metal City’.

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Dune - Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson

If, like me, you’re old enough to remember the original 1984 movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic novel, you’ll likely have an opinion about the upcoming remake of Dune. In my case, it’s a sense of optimism that the new movie –due for a December 2020 release if Covid-19 permits – will be a much more solid and faithful telling of a really compelling story.

The cast looks impressive (no Sting!), with a mixture of veteran and youthful stars. Timothee Chalamet may be Hollywood “flavor of the month” but he’s a very solid and versatile actor, and director Denis Villeneuve has already proven his chops by pulling off what nobody though possible – a really strong Blade Runner sequel that some claim even surpasses Ridley Scott’s original.

So what’s the Japan Zone angle? Glad you asked.

One of the movie’s locations was Budapest, Hungary. And it was to the Origo Film Studios in Budapest that we shipped a large order of jikatabi footwear in the spring of 2019. As was the case after we provided footwear for previous Hollywood blockbusters (47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves, Wolverine with Hugh Jackman, and the most recent Star Wars reboot) we looked and looked to see if the jikatabi were actually used, but given that feet are usually either out of shot or in the distance, it’s remarkably difficult to spot them.

So, it was with a sense of excitement that I checked out the recently released trailer and promo photos for Dune. Boots are in view, but as yet no definitive jikatabi shots. Still, it looks like a movie definitely worth checking out. And they’ve even included a bit of classic Pink Floyd in the soundtrack!

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HodoBuzz stars Maho Honda

HodoBuzz is a new “Japanese political mini-series” that started streaming in the U.S. and the U.K. last month following its controversial debut in Japan. It tells the story of a Japanese female journalist and her fight for the truth in reporting. It stars NYC-based actors Maho Honda as reporter Asuka Wada and Yuki Matsuzaki (Pirates of the Caribbean, Letters from Iwo Jima) as her new boss in the U.S.

The official press release describes the story as follows: “tired of sexism in Japan’s TV industry, reporter Asuka Wada quits her job in Tokyo as a game show host to move to New York City to work for a digital news company, HodoBuzz. With a new-found confidence, she speaks openly about the Japanese media industry’s false reporting, unethical business practice, and other industry taboos. Immediately, she becomes a target of intense online harassment.

HodoBuzz, a new Japanese political mini-series set in NYC

The series was produced by Derrrruq!!!, a group of independent filmmakers with two women and one openly gay man, who grew up in Japan and later immigrated into the United States. Honda, whose previous credits include Maniac (2018) and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015), is also credited as a producer of the series, while Masu Hiroshi Masuyama (In This Corner of the World, winner of the 40th Japan Academy Prize) is an executive producer.

The series is now available to stream on Amazon in the U.S. and U.K. (free for members of Amazon Prime) as well as several services in Japan.

HodoBuzz Official Trailer (US/UK) from Derrrrruq!!! //デルック on Vimeo.

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RHYME SO – formed by Japanese producer Shinichi Osawa, a.k.a MONDO GROSSO, and RHYME, an Australian artist/poet – has released their new single “HOT” visualized as a 360° VR music video.

Set in a virtual nightclub in your mind, “HOT” was directed by Jordan Freda, who has worked on several projects with some of the world’s top artists including Katy Perry. The music video was created in collaboration with Strangeloop Studios, an up-and-coming LA-based creative company that produces cutting-edge “music & tech” such as live visuals for The Weeknd and Flying Lotus.

RHYME SO – “HOT” (Official 360° VR Music Video)

Combining an addictive, fresh dance beat by Shinichi Osawa with lyrics by RHYME that sharply and humorously capture modern society, the “HOT” 360° virtual nightclub can be enjoyed with a VR headset or on a mobile phone.

The visual movies playing on the monitors in the “HOT” 360°club (the RHYME version, the SO version, and RHYME&SO version) are now available with lyrics on the RHYME SO YouTube Channel.

RHYME SO was formed in Tokyo in 2017, and their first track, “Just Used Music Again”, was included in 2019 on the Head in the Clouds II label compilation supervised by 88rising’s JOJI. The song was also cut as a single and made an impressive debut, jumping to the top of numerous Spotify playlists in more than 25 countries around the world, including New Music Friday, with over 2.2 million streams.

88rising & RHYME SO – Just Used Music Again

Released in March 2020, the single “Fashion Blogger” cynically and uniquely mirrors modern society’s addiction to the internet. The music video is set in a figure skating competition and features MILK (RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 / All Star Season 3), a world-renowned drag queen and former figure skater.

The epic and avant-garde music video, which features MILK and RHYME skating on ice, has been featured in many media outlets and has been viewed more than 2.7 million times on YouTube. The video is currently nominated for “Best Music Award “, “Best Actress/ Model Award”, and “Best Major Brand Production Award” at the London Fashion Film Festival and in the “Best Music Video” category of the Berlin Commercial festival.

Fashion Blogger


RHYME moved to Japan in 2017 soon after she met Osawa – the pair quickly formed a close collaboration and began writing together as RHYME SO; they’ve also performed together for DIOR in Tokyo. Their two cultures collide harmoniously as their distinctively rich musical abilities create exciting, relatable bops. RHYME SO’s music was picked up by Japanese/Australian artist JOJI and the duo’s debut single dance hit “Just Used Music Again” was released on 88 Rising’s 2019 album Head In The Clouds II, which gained accolades from Hypebeast, Highsnobiety, Billboard, Complex, Hypebae, Mixmag, The Line Of Best Fit, and more.

RHYME SO brings a refreshing sound and style that they’ve created on their own terms. Blending their infectious pop hooks, tongue twisters, and witty lyrics while pioneering a new era sound – which they call “Blank Post Genre” – the duo are set to hit the ground running with more new music to come soon.


Rising alt-pop artist RHYME encompasses an eclectic but curated genre for herself as a word performer. As a DJ, she’s travelled the world playing rock’n’roll to experimental hip-hop to house to disco in front of large crowds. Born to Australian rock legend Richard Lara (The Screaming Jets) and stylist and make-up artist Michelle Michaleson (Chrissy Amphlett), the Sydney-born singer started playing classical saxophone at age 10 and also took up figure skating. At 18 years old, RHYME decided to stop figure skating full-time due to financial pressures and focused on modelling and music. For a few years she volunteered at Mardi Gras Pride Parade Festival and curated music at Sydney’s well-known club, Frankie’s Pizza. RHYME released solo projects including her latest EP INTERNET GIRL which received support from NYLON Japan. As a model she has appeared in global fashion magazines including CAKE Magazine and Re-Quest/QJ.


Shinichi Osawa’s career began as MONDO GROSSO in the early 90s. Osawa then became a successful music producer and composer for TV advertisements and film scores. He went on to produce some of the most stylish acid jazz, house, Nu-wave and R&B music in Japan. He also produced many of Japan’s top artists like Namie Amuro and bird. Shinichi Osawa then succeeded in the 2000s as an electro music pioneer. He released his first album, The One, via FatBoy Slim’s Label. His remix of Digitalism’s “POGO” was an epic of the electro era. His unique style has been influential in the music industry in Japan and beyond. In 2017, he released his first album in 14 years as MONDO GROSSO – soon after the release, the album ranked #1 on Japan’s iTunes album chart, and the music video “Labyrinth” from the album has since accumulated over 26 million views, receiving support from Mixmag Asia.


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As Japan marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is remarkable and sad that some survivors are still fighting a battle. A recent court decision finally ruled that people who had suffered from the effects of exposure to radioactive “black rain” following the August 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima should be entitled to government support in spite of having been outside an officially designated radius of ground zero.

This article shares the stories of some of the survivors: Hiroshima survivors worry that the world will forget

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Yamamoto Kansai

Known for his avant-garde collections and the dramatic way he blended traditional Japanese designs with bright and bold fantasy colours, Yamamoto Kansai was perhaps most famous for his collaboration with rock/pop icon David Bowie.

He died on July 21, 2020 at the age of 76 following a diagnosis of leukemia.

David Bowie stage costume designed by Yamamoto KansaiHe was most influential during the 1970s and 1980s, and is particularly remembered for the flamboyant stage costumes he designed for Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane touring years in the early 70s. The photo shows a Yamamoto design from an exhibition of Bowie’s costumes first staged at the V&A in London in 2013.

“Some sort of chemical reaction took place: My clothes became part of David, his songs and his music,” Yamamoto said in a 2016 interview. “They became part of the message he delivered to the world.” He also designed clothing for other musical superstars including Elton John, Stevie Wonder and John Lennon.

Beyond fashion, Yamamoto also designed venues and social events, including for the 2008 G8 summit in Tokyo, and the Skyliner train that runs between Tokyo Narita Airport and the capital.

Japan Zone profiles of Yamamoto Kansai and other Japanese fashion designers.