Japanese City Govt Accepts Bitcoin to Preserve Famed Historic Park

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The government of the Japanese city of Hirosaki is accepting bitcoin donations in its effort to preserve and maintain a popular cherry tree park.

In a first, a local government in Japan and a bitcoin company are cooperating to accept bitcoin donations from Japan and beyond to help preserve a popular cherry blossom viewing park. Preservation and maintenance costs at the historic park run up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, according to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

The effort will be facilitated by Tokyo-based bitcoin wallet and exchange provider Coincheck.

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Donations will help preserve 2600 cherry trees of 50 different varieties and the 400 years-old Hirosaki castle at the park, by repairing its stone walls.

A pathway at the Hirosaki castle park.

Japan’s national public broadcaster also adds that officials chose bitcoin as a method of payment due to low remittance costs that will encourage overseas donations. The report further cites Hirosaki deputy mayor Noboru Yamamoto stating that bitcoin may also prove a solution for other local authorities in Japan at a time when most are struggling to raise funds.

Coincheck quotes an unnamed Hirosaki government official who stated:

Blockchain technology behind bitcoin sounds interesting. Last year, I saw several news articles such as “stores that install bitcoin payment (Coincheck Payment) reached over 260,000”, “Virtual Currency Law comes into effect from April in 2017” and “No tax imposed when buying bitcoin.” Reading them, I thought bitcoin was becoming more useful in society.

The city official is referring to a number of positive developments for the local bitcoin sector in Japan. At the beginning of the month, bitcoin gained recognition as a legal method of payment. Last year, Japanese lawmakers formally took the decision to end an 8% consumption sales tax on bitcoin buying.

Following bitcoin’s acceptance, Japanese retailing giants have partnered bitcoin companies to enable payments with the cryptocurrency. The above developments could see bitcoin integrated among digital payment options that could ultimately see over quarter-of-a-million Japanese storefronts accepting bitcoin this year.

“At Hirosaki-city, we consider bitcoin donation as a great opportunity to attract tourists from overseas,” the official added.

At the time of publishing, at total 0.5886 BTC (approx. $739.69) has been raised from 49 contributors in a day since the city began accepting bitcoin donations. A relatively small amount, but undoubtedly a novel method to raise donations and awareness about a historic park beyond Japan’s borders.

Bitcoin donations toward the preservation of the park can be made here.

Featured images of Hirosaki Park from Shutterstock.

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