• NFT Experiment

    Yugawara at night

Curious Minds

We like playing around with technology at Akiya & Inaka. For example, we:

  • Film and edit inaka concerts and akiya tours to put on Youtube.
  • Build websites using WordPress.
  • Keep style guidelines in a living document on Confluence.
  • Consolidate disparate listing information in giant, linked databases on Airtable.
  • Accept ETH and BTC as payment for research services.
  • And now, we’ve started playing with ERC-721 ecosystems, also known as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT).

This isn’t a flex so much as it is a statement of intent. Akiya are in such a funny situation not because they’re bad by their nature – we’ve proven that that isn’t the case – but because accepted practice so often doesn’t accommodate them. At the intersection of technology and akiya lies a real enticing suggestion: that if you use the tools available to you to change your perception, you can break open historically stagnant segments.

So… Cultural NFT?

Sure, A&I is a business so we appreciate money hitting our bank account, but as we’ve stated before, that’s not our main focus. Instead, we seek to offer proof that meaningful development in erstwhile sleepy markets is possible. It just requires some ingenuity.

Given our history in blockchain and media, then, maybe it’s not surprising that we’ve begun playing around with the NFT ecosystem. Specifically, on OpenSea.

It is, after all, explicitly made for putting media onto the Ethereum blockchain. 

Our most recent endeavor in this direction is starting an NFT series documenting the sounds of dusk in Yugawara.

Yes, that’s right: we put the natural soundtrack of inaka on the blockchain.

No Joke

Speaking seriously, though, there’s an interesting argument to be made based on the assumption that NFT technology lives up to its promises.

There’s a confounding problem of provenance in the digital media age which, boiled down, is concerned with truth. When was a piece of content created? How many edits? Who authored it? Where is the original copy kept? Metadata is still extremely porous and subject to tampering or, more often, neglect.

However, our hunch is that by sustainably placing digitized IRL cultural artifacts onto a blockchain, over a long enough period of time you would end up with an extremely accurate historical representation of the ecosystem in which those artifacts first occurred.

A Fascinating Proposition

The allure of the NFT is that it purports to solve this conundrum by placing media contents into the Ethereum blockchain, effectively locking in relevant metadata. Now, we’re currently uploading raw field recordings, which might not seem like much. To be honest, we actually do think its kinda cool as a form of immutable cultural documentation, but that’s not what we’re after here.

By creating an NFT of unique Japanese assets, we’re exploring use case with an eye on taking akiya on-chain. To whit, we suspect that the problems an NFT solves for entertaining media can easily be applied to technical media. Such as akiya listings, or transfer of property ownership documents.

NFT Use Case

To see what we mean, just take a look at our map of akiya banks across the Kanto plain. They are all garbage, but of various orders. None of them are synchronized, automated, or, often enough, even designed very well. The akiya market is a disaster, a travesty, in part because of the extremely disorganized management of it.

But – assuming that the NFT promise is true – imagine that each akiya listing was an NFT, a single source of truth that can be reliably updated and implemented by multiple actors over time. This is a very enticing proposition for us as it would break the market wide open in ways even we haven’t yet imagined.

Map of akiya banks in Kanto region

Cultural NFT Creation

The above statement is admittedly somewhat lofty, but we have others. Just as important as the technological use case is education. If you didn’t know how to create an NFT, or didn’t even know what one was, now you are aware. Awareness is, in our opinion, one of the best tools for setting the stage for new and positive developments.

Fortunately, this is not overly complex stuff. In fact, we’d like to see more people try it. Here’re the steps we took:

  1. Bought a Zoom H6 Field Recorder and a bunch of 128GB microSD cards
  2. Got Audacity
  3. Acquired some ETH.
  4. Grabbed a hardware wallet.
  5. Installed Metamask to access Web3.0
  6. Connected our wallet to Metamask
  7. Created an OpenSea account

With the above completed, it’s just a matter of turning our intent into action!


The above is how we went about starting on this adventure, but it is a Choose-Your-Own adventure. If you wanna get involved, do your own research on the matter and conduct yourself in the manner you see fit.