Among cryptocurrency enthusiasts, Tokyo is often mentioned as one of the most crypto-friendly cities in the world. Recently, it has especially become known for Bitcoin Cash (BCH) adoption, which is a cryptocurrency that has the characteristics of the original Bitcoin (BTC), as intended by the mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin Cash is meant to be used as cash for daily transactions, while Bitcoin (BTC) is not as useful as before with its high transaction fees, etc.
Three Days Subsisting on BCH
The Bitcoin Cash community in Tokyo is growing. I am an organizer of the Bitcoin Cash Meetup which currently has 1,500+ members. We meet up every Wednesday in Tokyo. I am also a Community Manager at Bitcoin.com and Satoshi’s Angels helping with the community’s growth and adoption of Bitcoin Cash.
Tokyo Survival Channel challenged me to survive 24 hours in Tokyo with only Bitcoin Cash (BCH) — no fiat currency. This was their rule:
I told them that it would probably be easy to do this, so they upped the challenge to 3 days/72 hours instead. I wasn’t sure if I could really get through 3 whole days without using any fiat currency, but I decided to take the challenge anyway.
Summary of my challenge
- Crypto Survival Challenge: Day 1
- Crypto Survival Challenge: Day 2
- Crypto Survival Challenge: Day 3
- Can you Enjoy Tokyo with Only Bitcoin Cash?
Monday, August 26th
I didn’t want to mistakenly use fiat (Japanese yen), because it’s easy to do, so I decided to hide my fiat and credit cards in the closet, so I couldn’t touch them. I loaded my Bitcoin.com mobile wallet with 1 BCH (about 32,000 yen worth). My wallet was very lean (in a good way)! I started to feel a bit nervous unexpectedly thinking to myself “Can I really survive without fiat for 3 whole days?”
Lunch at Dot RAW
I started with lunch. I was in the mood for something healthy, so I went to Dot RAW to have their all-you-can-eat salad, soup and deli (3 kinds of dishes) for 1,100 yen. They also have smoothies so I ordered a tropical green smoothie for 800 yen, too. Maybe that was too many vegetables. I paid with BCH from my mobile BCH wallet directly.
Cost: 1,900 yen
Coffee at Gluten-Free T’s Kitchen
Gluten-Free T’s Kitchen across from Tokyo Midtown is popular for visitors who are looking for gluten-free food in Japan. I feel vegetarian/vegan or gluten-free restaurants are still hard to find in Japan. This cafe also makes desserts that taste so good you can’t tell that they’re gluten-free.
Cost: 500 yen
Chocolate snack at Family Mart
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, I can use cryptocurrency at a convenience store?”
The answer is, yes you can! But indirectly. This is how I did it:
A Japanese exchange Decurret has just released a cool service that lets users charge some of the most popular e-money cards/wallets such as Rakuten Edy, Nanaco, and Au wallet with certain cryptocurrencies (BCH, BTC, LTC, and XRP). Here is their press release for the service.
Being able to top-up these popular e-money cards means you can shop at 400,000+ shops for Edy, 490,000 + shops for Nanaco, and Au wallet can be used for places that accept Visa or Mastercard, so that’s a lot of shops. Opening an account with an exchange takes some time, so asking a friend to buy you “gift points” might be another easy option. Edy and Nanaco are charged with gift points.
Cost: 108 yen
Printing at 7 Eleven
I had to print something, so I went to 7-Eleven and used the printer with a Nanaco card which was topped-up using BCH through Decurret. Being able to use a printer with cryptocurrency even indirectly was a very cool experience for me.
Cost: 660 yen
A Quick Drink at MEZZO
You think night clubbing or going to a bar in Tokyo is too expensive? Mezzo is located right by Roppongi Crossing, with a great atmosphere and professional, friendly staff. Their drinks and most of the food are 500 yen (less than 5 U.S. dollars). They accept BCH directly from your BCH wallets.
Cost: 500 yen
Bitcoin Cash IPA and Pizza for Dinner at Two Dogs Taproom
They also make Bitcoin Cash branded IPA, which is their best seller. Don’t forget to try Coinspice pizza, which is sponsored by crypto news outlet. If you pay with BCH, you get Bitcoin Cash IPA for a happy-hour price. Even though they accept Bitcoin (BTC) as well, I chose to use BCH because it’s much cheaper to use. When I paid the bill with BCH, I spent 0.08 yen which is less than one-tenth of a penny, but if I used BTC, I would have paid 100–200 yen on top of my bill. Two Dogs’ owner told me that nobody really pays with BTC anymore because of its high fees.
Tipping in Japan isn’t common, but it’s fun to tip staff in BCH, so I added another 300 yen on top of my bill.
Cost with tip: 3,350 yen
A Drink at Jokers
Cost: 1,000 yen
Late Night Curry at CoCo ICHIBANYA (Spicy level 4 ????)
It was almost 1:30 a.m. and I was getting hungry again… In the late hours of the night, the choices are more limited for a good meal if you want to buy with bitcoin cash (BCH) directly, so I decided to use one of those cards that I topped up with BCH using Decurrent. I ordered a takeout “Summer Chicken Curry” from CoCo Ichibanya with Edy.
Cost: 985 yen
Day 1 Recap
In the morning I was a bit worried if I would be able to survive with no fiat for 72 hours, but by the end of the day, I realized there are so many places that I can spend cryptocurrency directly and indirectly.
No Fiat 72 Hrs Challenge in Tokyo Day 1 Results?
1. Healthy lunch & smoothie at Dot RAW
2. Coffee at Gluten Free T’s Cafe
3. Quick drink at MEZZO
4. BCH IPA & pizza for dinner at Two Dogs
5. Drink at a night club “Jokers”
…and more! All paid in #BCH?@_tokyochallenge https://t.co/MbJEo6M3Oq pic.twitter.com/8I03jbp4he
— Akane Yokoo (@YokooAkane) August 26, 2019
Crypto Survival Challenge: Day 2
Tuesday, August 27
I was still full from the late night curry from yesterday, so I skipped breakfast.
Iced Coffee from Family Mart
I need some coffee in the morning, so I went to Family Mart and paid for an iced coffee with Edy. Nice and easy!
Cost: 100 yen
Lunch at Gusto
I had lunch with my non-crypto job colleagues.
I told them that I couldn’t use fiat, so we decided to go somewhere that accepts Edy or Nanaco. They think I’m a weird Bitcoin nerd who can’t stop talking about Bitcoin all the time, but they’re nice enough to bear with me. We decided to go to Gusto, which is a family restaurant chain in Japan that accepts Edy.
When we were about to order food, however, the waiter told me they only accepted Edy through a QR code. Since I have an iPhone I couldn’t install the Edy app, and Gusto didn’t accept the Edy card. I challenged this situation by convincing one of my colleagues to accept BCH for me so she could pay on my behalf with JPY. The peer-to-peer exchange of Bitcoin was made in a few seconds. I had a hamburger and salad.
Cost: 1,023 yen
Hot Coffee from Natural Lawson
Lawson accepts Edy.
I love Natural Lawson because they have so many kinds of high-quality products including organic wine, coffee, snacks, vegetables, etc., in addition to daily essentials all convenience stores have. They even sell organic natto.
Cost: 100 yen
Cake at Dean & Deluca – 583 yen
After work, I was craving something sweet. I stopped by Dean & Deluca at Tokyo Midtown for a delicious looking piece of cake. They accepted Edy.
Note: If you want to exclusively spend BCH for desserts, places I mentioned before like Gluten Free T’s Kitchen and Dot RAW serve desserts as well.
- Dean & Deluca
- Cake at Dean & Deluca
- They accept Eddy payment.
- Paid with Eddy!
Cost: 583 yen
3 pairs of socks at UNIQLO
Time for a little shopping.
I went to UNIQLO and purchased 3 pairs of socks. They accept Edy!
Cost: 1,069 yen
Passed by Matsuya
Hmm, I guess they don’t accept Edy or Nanaco…
Bottled Water from Mini Stop
I was thirsty, so bought a bottle of water from Mini Stop, which is another chain of convenience stores, with Edy.
Cost: 91 yen
Eye Drops from Drug Store Matsumoto Kiyoshi
I remembered that I needed to buy eye drops, so I bought a bottle at Matsumoto Kiyoshi, which is probably the largest drug store chain in Japan. They accept Edy.
Side Note: I heard Japanese eye-drops are popular souvenirs among some people.
Cost: 198 yen
Train Fare – 195 yen x 2 = 390 yen
So here came the big challenge — how could I pay for transportation with cryptocurrency?
Decurret’s president hinted this year that they’re thinking about adding crypto for charging Suica, which is one of the two major digital money cards used for transportation issued by JR East. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet, so what to do? I couldn’t think of an easy way to get around this challenge. Asking a random stranger to purchase a ticket and I will pay them BCH did not sound like an easy or fun thing to do. I asked a friend to buy and charge PASMO for me after sending him 4,000 yen worth BCH. I have not touched fiat so far.
Spanish Dinner at La Cocina De Gaston in Nihonbashi – 3,000 yen
Book at Book 1st
Side note: “Digital Gold” by Nathaniel Popper is a recommended book if you want to hear an interesting history of Bitcoin.
Cost: 1,998 yen
Don Quijote is like Walmart. They have all kinds of things from daily consumables to party items, electronics, etc. I often recommend this place for souvenir shopping for my foreign friends who are visiting Japan. I bought a green tea flavored chocolate snack.
They accept Rakuten Edy.
Cost: 149 yen
Frozen Strawberry Margarita at Wall Street House
The bar is great for a quick drink after dinner. From the counter table, you can enjoy the busy streets of Roppongi while you enjoy your cocktail.
They also offer 200-yen discount if you pay for a drink with BCH.
Cost with discount: 1,000 yen
Window Shopping at Luxury Watch and Jewelry YUKIZAKI – 0 yen
Yukizaki, a luxury watch and jewelry company that has more than 15 shops in Japan, accepts BCH as payment. While it’s too much money for this challenge, it would be hard to pass up if I needed a new watch.
— Akane Yokoo (@YokooAkane) August 27, 2019
Crypto Survival Challenge: Day 3
Wednesday, August 28th
I worked from home in the morning, and I didn’t want to leave the house but I was hungry. It would have been nice if I could use crypto to get food delivered with services like Uber Eats. This is something that is definitely missing.
Lunch at Downtown B’s Indian Kitchen – 1,000 yen
This pop looking place is actually an authentic Indian curry restaurant. Downtown B’s uses good ingredients to make delicate-tasting curry, which is not spicy.
I ordered a “Grill Lunch Set” that comes with tandoori chicken and a drink.
- BCH accepted!
Cost: 1,000 yen
Taxi from Roppongi to Ebisu
I was running late for my hair cut appointment, so I decided to take a taxi. They accepted Edy.
Note: Some taxis only take cash (fiat) so when you get in be sure to ask them what they accept.
Cost: 1,850 yen
Haircut and Treatment at Hair Salon Mint
The friendly owner and staff gave me a very warm welcome. Their salon has a spa-style room where they give a variety of hair treatment services. Just hearing about the spa menu made me feel relaxed.
- Paid with BCH
After a haircut, they gave me an herbal scalp cleansing and moisturizing hair treatment followed by a neck and shoulder massage — I was completely relaxed. I’d like to come back here for more spa treatments soon. The total bill was 10,220 yen but I got 20% referral discount.
Cost with referral discount: 8,170 yen
Drinks at Bar BASHI in Ebisu
BASHI is a nice cozy bar that started accepting BCH in August 2019. The Bitcoin Cash Meetup that I help coordinate met on day three of my challenge. We welcomed 20 people and discussed topics ranging from basic information on Bitcoin Cash to recent progress on BCH development, etc. It’s a very friendly community in Tokyo, so please join us if you love Bitcoin!
— Akane Yokoo (@YokooAkane) August 28, 2019
Cost: 2,900 yen
Drinks at Sheesha Bar No.5
After lots of talking and laughing, I headed to Sheesha bar No.5 with a friend.
We ordered 2 drinks and one sheesha (guava and strawberry flavor). This place accepts BCH directly.
Karaoke is included. They have a great view from the windows. Very Tokyo-ish. There’s also 500 yen per person table charge.
Cost (for 2): 5,500 yen
Cookies from Daily Yamazaki (Convenience Store)
The 72-hour challenge was almost over… I celebrated it with a small bag of chocolate-covered cookies (Takenoko no sato) from the convenience store Daily Yamazaki.
Cost: 140 yen
- Daily Yamazaki, one of the famous Japanese Convenience store
- Takenoko no Yama! Popular snack.
Can you Enjoy Tokyo with Only Bitcoin Cash?
I’d say living on bitcoin cash for three days is doable, and there are a lot of ways you can use bitcoin cash in Tokyo directly and indirectly. You can easily find restaurants, nightclubs, and bars (some have karaoke inside) that accept BCH directly, but you will have a hard time using transportation, postal and delivery services, etc. with cryptocurrency.
Also, I’d like to talk about the “hidden costs”. As much as these e-money cards are useful, paying with cryptocurrencies directly instead of going through these services is much better in the bigger picture. If you send BCH directly to a shop, for example, there is almost no fee for you or the shop, while if you pay with a credit card or e-money card, shops are charged 3–5% for the payment service even if it’s free for you to use those services. And the irony is that most shops reflect this fee in the product prices so that they don’t loose money, which means us consumers are indirectly “paying the price” for these expensive payment service fees. There is a reason why cost-efficient businesses like Saizeria (family restaurant) don’t accept e-money card payments.
Credit card services, e-money cards, or fiat are probably here to stay for longer than we think, and there are benefits from using those forms of money, too during the transition. There are many other merchants I wanted to introduce but three days was too short for that. You can find recommended shops that accept BCH directly here at Bitcoin.jp.
Enjoy Tokyo with Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and let us know your fun experience!
More Tips for Travelers
- Opening an account with a Japanese crypto exchange locally is probably unrealistic. So if you need to change your BCH to cash (fiat/Japanese Yen), using services like Local Bitcoin as it does not require registration or ID may be helpful.
- If you need more info about spending BCH in Japan, feel free to visit the local Tokyo meetup that’s held every Wednesday night. We’re sure you’ll find lots of useful information and make good connections about cryptocurrencies or Japanese culture from the participants.
- If you are a foreigner visiting Japan and you’d like to use an e-money card with BCH, nanaco might be the easiest of all three. I recommend asking a friend to top it up for you beforehand if you live abroad. It takes a few days until you can receive Nanaco points.
- If you are a ramen fan, there are two ramen shops (named Ramen Jinanbou) that are very good in Nogata that accept BCH directly. I highly recommend it.
Don’t forget to check out Hatano Chiropractic, which is only 1–2 minutes away from Ramen Jinanbou.
- I definitely recommend bringing fiat if you want to travel in the countryside.
You will be shocked to find that some of the old shops and hotels do not even accept credit cards yet.
This article was originally published by Akane Yokoo here.
Images credits: Akane Yokoo.
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