In the Shibuya section of Tokyo sits a secluded and tumbledown neighborhood dubbed the “The Zaka” by those who regularly frequent her squalid charms. Known officially as Dogenzaka, this abstruse and constricted quarter of dark alleyways and dead-end passageways is home to a myriad of mom and pop eateries, karaoke bars, vintage clothing stores, and sake lounges. Most notably though, the serpentine streets of The Zaka contain one of the largest concentrations of love hotels in Japan. Lovers of every age, social status, and conjugal standing zigzag through its streets to secure a room (usually for 2-3 hours) for some sturdy “root down” before the last train shuttles them back to domestic mundanity.
Recently Dogenzaka has been undergoing tremendous changes, trying its best to hold onto its grimy past, while the clutches of gentrification close tighter around her. Sex shops and costume stores are quickly being dispossessed. Entire city blocks have recently been expropriated by city hall’s remorseless wrecking ball; bland office buildings, indistinguishable from one another, now hold position next to freshly constructed chain stores, with the dullness of their exteriors exceeded only by the banality of their names. The familiar and prosaic will soon rule where the lecherous and lustful once dominated.
Sakura BTC Holdings
My travel schedule had prevented me from visiting Dogenzaka for one year; however, even in that short span of time, several blocks of my former stomping grounds had been wholly transformed. Knowing that the complexion of The Zaka was about to be altered forever, I dedicated two hours on a Saturday to reacquaint myself with its sinuous byways.
While the buildings springing up on every corner and quaint side street infused a cordial dose of melancholy into my meanderings, none of the twists and turns The Zaka had taken were particularly shocking. Then, all at once, I spotted a thing of beauty: Sakura Holdings had grabbed a piece of the action. Their kitschy white Bitcoin kiosk beckoned me like bacon and bourbon on a frosty night in the Rockies.
Doing my best Frogger imitation, I chose to take the most direct path afforded to me–to cross the street without the guidance of a crosswalk or traffic light, which enabled me to approach this gaudily charming edifice in a full-frontal manner.
When I entered, two bright faces looked up and welcomed me with inquisitive eyes, launching perfunctory smiles masked (literally) by the preventative dictates of COVID.
“I am here searching for Satoshi,” I wisecracked in Japanese.
They both chuckled from behind the cloths that cloaked the majority of their faces. “Funny joke!” shot back the guy with the black surgical mask.
Many true things are said in jest. My joke hid a larger truth about my agenda in Japan. I honestly was in Tokyo to find Satoshi. (Note: You need to check my future Blockster articles to get the larger story.) Meanwhile, I explained in my enduringly fractured Japanese that I was a journalist and that I was here to research–seriously!–the whereabouts of Satoshi Nakamoto, which froze their bodies stiff and turned their smiles into looks of panic. Appreciating that I had disrupted their business routines, I asked permission to take a few photos of their office (which was cheerfully granted) and inquired about the success of their operations.
I bid farewell and savored the irony of our discourse: I had not spoken one word of English, nor had they uttered a word of Japanese. Both parties had slipped exclusively into the mother tongue of the other, due to the imperatives of mutual respect and shared ambitions toward cultural ambassadorship.
If Dogenzaka was going to meet its demise at the hands of gentrification, I could find a degree of solace—knowing that every man and woman who strolled down its main street would now have the opportunity to ingest the orange pill of Bitcoin. The fact that crypto was making its inroads into this humble area of Tokyo was great news. After all, BTC was never meant to be a luxury product, it is a lifestyle product.
The Hard Fork
Shortly after my pleasant time with the gentlemen at Sakura Holdings, nostalgia for long-departed Zaka evenings began to lay waste to my psyche. The many years of nights here filled with wine, women, and song had been memorialized in my memory. But the demons of those days had largely been exercised. I had swapped the life of a lothario to be born again through crypto, opting to soak in the warm orange glow of BTC over soaking in a love hotel bathroom with someone’s perfidious wife. Besides, I had gotten in enough trouble in Dogenzaka, building an amorous mythology large enough to rival the chronicles of Isis and Osiris. A positive change was now gloriously unraveling itself (just in time) to both Dogenzaka and myself.
The love hotels of Dogenzaka are a primary contributor to me being “off the charts”
At my age, I no longer have the luxury to shoot wads of money on carnal pursuits. BTC addiction serves my future better than addiction of the flesh, which was a vice that required time, energy, and money – three things increasingly harder to come by in this post COVID world. Hence, the roaring currents of the Rubicon have swept my promiscuous proclivities out to sea; I have bested the bygone beasts of compulsion’s undertow and stepped onto the shores of the crypto lifestyle.
Thanks to crypto, we have hard forked our lives.
William Laurent is Blockster’s Editor in Chief. Widely published throughout his career, Will is regularly featured in American Banker, Foundry, and Tech for Good to name a few. He’s advised over 30 Fortune 500 companies across North America and Asia on content strategy, data visualization, and digital/cultural transformation. He is an influential educator, writer, artist, crypto dad, and husband. His artwork and NFTs are sought-after collectibles. Connect with William on DeSo and LinkedIn.