Yamakushi, an isolated Japanese village nestled in the Niigata mountains, has attracted 1,700 “digital natives”.

Yamakoshi, a remote Japanese village nestled in the Niigata mountains, has attracted 1,700 “digital natives” through the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as part of an initiative to support and sustain its elderly population.

The Yamakoshi New Village project, led by local residents, is managed by the Nishikigoi NFT Group, named after a vibrant breed of koi fish.

This digital asset serves as an identifier for Yamakoshi’s “digital citizens” and as a governance token that allows participation in voting processes managed by the village’s DAO.

According to a new report from Japanese research and advisory firm Yuri Group, the project has raised more than $423,000 from Nishikigoi NFT sales since its launch in 2021.

Proceeds were donated to community initiatives, such as organizing a sports day for local schoolchildren.

Residents of Yamakushi village. Source: Yuri Group

Nishikigoi tokens are free for physical residents while the digital community must purchase them. Its minimum price is 0.0318 Ethereum (ETH) as of June 26, according to the Magic Eden NFT marketplace.

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NFT technology alone does not offer an immediate solution to Japan’s record birth rate, but represents a unique and experimental approach to raising funds for elderly people in isolated rural communities.

“If their strategy succeeds and expands to other villages, we estimate that rural Japan could look to raise funds on the order of half a billion dollars while testing a new wave of social technologies with a global appeal,” said Yuri Group. In his report.

In April, the private sector group’s Population Strategy Council reported that 40 percent of Japan’s 1,729 municipalities were at risk of extinction due to falling birth rates.

Yamakoshi Virtual Town Hall is open to physical and digital citizens. Source: Yuri Group

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration sees Web3 as a key element in achieving “Society 5.0”, the plan that aims to create a more sustainable and advanced society by integrating technologies such as artificial intelligence, ‘Internet of things and big data.

The New Yamakoshi Village project received 10 million yen (about $62,500) from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to test and implement Web3 tools.

But the project ran into some obstacles, such as explaining the technology and its benefits to older people.

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According to Yuri Group, the project manager expressed difficulties in demonstrating the voting process in the DAO and noted a low turnout.

Additionally, digital natives abroad also face language barriers.

Meanwhile, global NFT trading volume has seen sharp declines in recent months.

Global NFT sales volume is on track to close the second quarter of 2024 down 45%, while June is expected to become the worst performing month since October 2023, according to data from CryptoSlam.

The market value of NFTs, mainly dominated by collectibles and avatars, fell 31.5% in the three months to June 26, according to NFTGo data.

Despite the recent decline in NFT trading activity, Yuri Group told Cointelegraph that there is room for both practical NFTs and personal collectibles in Japan.

“This is Japan after all, the birthplace of anime and manga, a country with an immense culture of physical collectibles that lends itself well to NFT adoption,” said Will Fei, a researcher at Yuri group, at Cointelegraph.

“‘Digital natives’ in the Yamakoshi metaverse also tend to use more cartoonish anime or avatars, which may indicate that more playful tech applications also have a shelf life alongside social impact use cases “, he added.

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