Virtual Currency Offering Festival

Virtual Currency Offering Festival

Virtual Currency Offering Festival _ Outline

“Virtual Currency Offering Festival” is a project attempting to “update religious rituals”. It is a new form of celebratory festival in which virtual currencies are collected from across the world for later redistribution, bringing “a good harvest” to the community. It is intended to expand, by way of technology, the sense of citizen participation, the essence of festive rituals, using virtual currency characterized by ability to transfer money across space instantaneously.

“Virtual Currency Offering Festival” was held in an actual living setting of a traditional shopping street in Tokyo supported by citizens. Residents in and around the area, corporations, local government as well as renowned experts, entrepreneurs and researchers made “offering” of various resources and technologies of their fields. The project created a large number of collaboration work which encompassed the following, among many others; “Yokai-monster-robot based on animatronics technology, “Kishu (peculiar sake), a liquor with extraordinary fermentation process by a fermentation professional”, and an “AI voice synthesys of Heart Sutra”. The citizens brought their own projects, musical instruments and fancy-dress costumes of their choice and enjoyed themselves. In the festival, approximately 18000 people in total gathered at the shopping street over the course of two days. Men, women, young and old including the local residents took part in the “Virtual Currency Offering Festival Parade”.

Although indigenous folk religion may seem irrational at a glance, it has rational functions such as maintenance of community, consoling the spirit of the diseased and disaster prevention. Ichihara attempted to create “new rituals” and “new tradition”, deriving from her question, “how will it be possible to continue these peculiar festivals in the next 100 years, not as an outdated and dying tradition due to lack of successors but instead, as “living culture” in which blood flows?”

Ichihara’s question was catalytic in creating a platform for people of a wide variety of background participating and meeting one another coincidentally. This work is a social experiment envisaging “grant economy” in the aftermath of end of capitalism. It is a new interactive art which creates a community by connecting a diverse pool of people in an urban space which now has weaker connection with the indigenous tradition.


Technical Details - SoftWare


Design concept
It is designed as “modern version of Potlatch system” combined with Bitcoin.

Design by citizen participation
–  Following the process of the traditional way of an ordinary village festival, we had a fundraising as a pre-festival. People make “dedication” with their own words to pray through this process.
– People’s words of prayer are synthesized by the unique AI by an AI startup WATASHIHA Inc. The artificially generated voice which sounds like a real human voice inspires people.
– Cryptocurrency collected from all over the world during the parade is deposited into the dedicated wallet and dedicated to the local shrine where the mikoshi is carried.

Software design
– In the “Digital Potlatch System” installed on the mikoshi, when Bitcoin collected from all over the world is deposited into the dedicated wallet on, Python script executed in the server (mikoshi) monitors the balance to detect the arrival of currency.
– The control command is sent to each application depending on the payment.
The LED pattern and voice control application are implemented with openFrameworks, and it controls the LED pattern and the voice audio from mikoshi according to the amount of currency to the wallet and the number of payments. In addition, the fan controller implemented with Arduino controls the rotation speed of the LED fan according to the amount of money received and the number of payments of Bitcoin, and it bring excitement to people carrying the mikoshi by light, sound and rotation of LED fan.
– the interaction of mikoshi changes gradually depending on the amount of Bitcoin received. Currently, there are three stages: “normal celebration”, “wasshoi celebration”, and “super wasshoi celebration”, and the designed LED light pattern, synthesized voice, and fan rotation speed are set.

*”Wasshoi” is a shout when carrying a mikoshi.

Implementation method / Tools
Python, openFrameworks, Arduino

Other functions
– As there is a stream live for the state of mikoshi procession, anybody can participate in this local festival from anywhere in the world.
– “Digital Potlatch System” aims to be a platform that can support other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and DASH other than Bitcoin.

Technical Details - Hardware


[Design concept]
– Mikoshi is a “portable shrine” used in traditional Japanese festivals. It is said that people carry mikoshi and move around the city, and the gods present in the architectures. The hardware of this work is based on this “mikoshi” concept.
– In hardware design, while following the traditional mikoshi structure, a chimera-like object, a mikoshi combined with gaming PCs, has been created.
In addition, the traditional culture and ritual articles have been updated to the modern design using digital fabrication tools such as laser cutters, while keeping handicrafts atmosphere with traditional craftsmanship.
– This “Mikoshi” can be produced all over the world because it is easier to mass-produce and duplicate than the traditional ones made with craftsmanship. This design facilitates the reproduction of festivals throughout the country.

[Exterior, hardware, and functions]

– The mikoshi is equipped with LED Stripe, LED Case Fan, Gaming PC, audio amplifier, battery and so on. At the same time, it is decorated with some ornaments such as “shimenawa” and “torii,” which used in traditional religious architectures, to create a unique exterior that combines technology and religion.
– LED light and the AI-generated voice interact with each other depending on the payment of Bitcoin. The LED patterns are designed very colorfully, inspired by the local street cultures and geek cultures.

[Implementation method / Tools]
Laser cutter, Cutting machine, Vectorworks, Illustrator

Structure: general-purpose aluminum frame, wood, acrylic board
Server: motherboard, CPU, memory, SSD, CPU cooler, ATX power supply, battery
Audio equipment: speakers, amplifiers,
LED: LED Case Fan, LED Stripe, LED Driver, stabilized power supply
Ornaments: Shinto shrines objects, lanterns

Other Weird Dedications

Renowned experts, entrepreneurs and researchers made “offering” of various resources and technologies of their fields

Tengu Robot

Yokai-monster-robot using animatronics technology” by animatronics researcher.

Weird Sake Dedication

“peculiar sake – a liquor with extraordinary fermentation process” by a fermentation professional

Dedication of AI

“AI voice synthesys of Sutra” by AI startup company

Electronicos! Festival Music

Old electronics devices becomes instruments and they played a festival music for the parade.

Bitcoin Wallet

We shoulder up the Mikoshi and parade around PM 6:30-7:15 in Japan time.
Meanwhile, if you send bitcoin to the bitcoin address as below, the bitcoin you sent affect the Mikoshi parade in realtime. After that, It will be physically dedicated to shrine and temple in Tokyo.

 bitcoin address



Etsuko Ichihara (JP) / New media Artist, Fantasy inventor, Digital Shamanist

Etsuko Ichihara is Japanese award-winning new media artist. Born 1988 in Aichi. Graduated in Studies of Media, Body and Image from the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University. She has been creating artworks that interpret Japanese culture, customs and beliefs from a unique point of view, and present new, technology-based approaches. Thanks to their strong impact, these works have been introduced across a wide range of media all over the world, such as  newspapers and TV programs, radio programs, and magazines.
Ichihara’s works were included in the Excellence Award at the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival, Entertainment Division in 2017, and in 2016, chosen for the INNOvation program from The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. She won Honorary Mention (Interactive Art+) in PRIX Ars Electronica 2018 and received a STARTS Prize Nomination in the same year recently.
She has recently presented her works in exhibitions such as ‘Digital Shamanism: Japanese Funeral and Festivity’ at NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], Japan Media Arts Festival. ,  ‘Cyber Arts Exhibition 2018’ at Ars Electronica Festival in Linz.
twitter: @etsuko_ichihara

 Interview at toco toco TV

Interview about her artworks.

Interview at Nippon TV 24

Interview about “Digital Shaman Project”, and this interview was wide spread all over the world.



Planner, Media Art Director, Organizer: ICHIHARA Etsuko
Technical Direction, Software Development, Hardware Design and Development of Server Mikoshi: WATAI Taiki
Software Development of Server Mikoshi: INAGAKI Jun
Frame Structure Design and Production of Server Mikoshi: KAWASHIMA Takuro
Minister of Fermentation: OGURA Hiraku
Animatronics Design and Development of Tengu: NAKADAI Hisanao
Application and motion development of Tengu robot: WATANABE Chika
Model of Tengu robot: FUJII Naotaka
Logo Design: HATA Yurie
Photographer: KUROHA Masashi
Videographer, Editor: NOMOTO Victor
Research & PR Support: HARADA Yuki (Qonversations)
Management Support: HAYAKAWA Yukie
Voice Synthesis: WATASHIHA Inc.
Venue & Management Cooperation: Kawashima Shopping Street

Exhibition View

Recent Exhibitions

2020 “International Arts × Science Festival 2020 – KYOTO STEAM” at Kyoto City Kyocera museum, Kyoto, JAPAN
2020 “Media Ambition Tokyo 2020”,Tokyo, JAPAN
2020 “Open Possibilities” at NTT InterCommunication Center[ICC], Tokyo , JAPAN
2019 “Matsudo International Science art festival” at Tojotei, Matsudo, JAPAN

Media, News

 “Virtual Currency Offering Festival” was featured on the medias below.

Venue Information

The venue – Kawashima Shopping Street-  is a traditional shopping street that have been existing for more than 50 years. In our festival, you can enjoy new media arts, local food stands, shooting games, performances and so on. We will have 15 vendors selling foods and drinks, etc!

Date: PM 4:00 – 9:00 in 9 – 10th Nov (Sat&Sun) / Canceled in case of stormy weather / no entrance restriction / Join for free
■Venue: Kawashima Shopping Street
■Adress: Kawashima Shopping Street, 3-14-6 Yayoicho Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-0013, JAPAN


Kawashima Shopping Street, 3-14-6 Yayoicho
Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-0013, JAPAN
and you can also participate via online!!


Shooting games, Street performance by local citizens also showed in the festival.

Glowing toys
Lottery toys
Shooting games
Local hero show
Jazz live
and so on…

Food stand

Delicious food stands by local citizens in the shopping street will be appear in the festival.
Below are the example of the menu.

Udon ¥300
Skewered rice dumplings ¥120
Grilled noodles ¥200
Grilled chicken ¥100
Fried potatoes |100
Tapioka drink ¥300