ICL Update : Building a New Culture in the Japanese NFT Market

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the concept of “Gachiho” in the Japanese NFT space.

Literary, Gachiho means “hard-core holding,” so it is equivalent to HODL (Hold on for dear life) in English.

Gachiho is the new diamond hand culture that ICL, the largest alpha group in Japan, is trying to set in the Japanese NFT space. If you are new to the Japanese market, it is crucial for you to understand this concept to analyze each project accordingly.

Let me explain why we think this Gachiho culture is so important and what exactly ICL is doing to promote this behavior in the Japanese NFT space.
ICL (Ikehaya Cryptocurrency Lab) is the largest private NFT alpha community in Japan, founded by a business/NFT influencer, Ikehaya, in February 2021. The members share information on NFT projects, market trends, cryptocurrency trading, and blockchain games. The group has given the allowlists for projects like “Live Like A Cat” and “Aopanda Party.” You can find out more about the group here.

Full disclosure: I’m a collaboration manager of ICL at the time of writing.

Why do Japanese Collections have Such Low Listing Rates?

If you have been researching the Japanese NFT market, you might have noticed that some collections have extremely low listing rates on OpenSea. For example, the Live Like A Cat collection has only a 0.2% listing rate, although its floor price has increased by 3,400x from the mint price of 0.001ETH. For CryptoNinja Partners, only 0.8% of the collection is listed on OpenSea even nine months after the release.

“Why do Japanese collections have such low listing rates?”

That’s the question we get from non-Japanese investors all the time!

There are two main reasons:

  • The average Japanese attitude toward investment is passive
  • Japanese cultural background with content like anime and manga

The average Japanese financial literacy is low compared to other developed countries, as many have conservative attitudes toward investments. Thus Japanese people in general are less likely to engage in short-term trading activities.

In addition, Japan has a large consumer base for content like anime and manga. Because of this background, both adults and children actively consume such content services on daily basis. This results in us, the Japanese, having different attitudes toward PFP collections compared to overseas investors.

We naturally treat PFP collections as content to enjoy rather than just financial instruments.
Taking advantage of this behavior, Ikehaya, the ICL founder, decided to embed the “Gachiho” (diamond hand) culture in the Japanese NFT space.

What did ICL Do to Set the “Gachiho” Culture?

These are three steps Ikehaya has taken to set the Gachiho culture in the Japanese market.

  • Actively promote the idea of Gachiho in his Twitter spaces, tweets, and podcast shows
  • Creates alliances among different projects by distributing Allowlists strategically
  • Establish project categories and create channels accordingly within ICL

Coming up to the release of the “Live Like A Cat” collection, Ikehaya repeatedly mentioned “Gachiho” on social media. Since he is the top influencer in the Japanese NFT space, his followers and community members embraced the idea and assisted him in disseminating his thoughts.

As a lead marketer of the “Live Like A Cat (LLAC)” collection, Ikehaya decided to offer the allowlists to CryptoNinja Partners (CNP) owners and ICL members, known for being diamond hand investors in the Japanese NFT space. He then went through all applicants’ wallet addresses to eliminate investors who are likely to flip LLAC.

So far, Ikehaya’s strategy has proven effective as the price of LLAC has traded above 3 ETH since its initial mint at 0.001 ETH with a listing rate of only 0.2%.

Source: OpenSea (As of 19 Jan 23)

“I wanted to create a system in which the Gachiho behavior gets rewarded. By offering the LLAC Allowlists to Gachiho holders, I could educate people to start investing with a long-term vision,” Ikehaya commented in the interview.

The below statistics show the investment style of LLAC holders.

Source: Uniq.cx

To enhance the idea, Ikehaya created closed channels within ICL. Alpha-diamond is for members who own more than 10 CNPs, and alpha-standard is for members who own all CNP, LLAC, and APP, categorized as Gosanke (Big-3). Members in these channels receive priority for some allowlist distributions.

“The Japanese NFT market is still in its infancy, so embedding Gachiho culture is crucial for the industry growth, ” Ikehaya said. He believes that having too many flippers in the market prevents the healthy growth of NFT projects.

“Imagine that everybody flips as soon as minting a new project. This behavior kills the project, and investors end up getting disappointed. That’s what happened to many of the overseas projects, and I’m determined to set a new culture in the Japanese NFT market.”

ICL: A Hub for Gachiho Projects

Since Ikehaya has been a passionate advocate of the Gachiho culture, ICL has attracted members with a similar investment style. Although it’s a private community with a joining fee, ICL currently has over 3,300 members, including many of the Japanese project founders and marketers.

ICL has become a desirable community for project founders to connect and distribute allowlists to Gachiho investors.
Apart from the “BIG-3” category, the members grouped the below projects and started calling them “Shichibukai (Seven Warlords).”
Interestingly, all these projects have low listing rates of under 2% and have outperformed the market in recent months.
The chart below shows the relationships among projects based on wallet activities.
Source: oneseep.xyz

It is becoming distinct that in the Japanese NFT space, projects sharing similar cultures are starting to form strong alliances.

ICL has become a hub for projects sharing the Gachiho culture. I expect this trend to advance further as the group gains more influence in the market.
Ikehaya argues that there will be less need to promote the Gachiho culture in the future as the Japanese market expands.
“The Japanese NFT market is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years. Once we have more players in the market, we will naturally be able to accommodate different types of investors,” he says.
“But for now, my job is to focus on the healthy growth of the market. Together with the ICL members, I’m determined to educate investors so that many of our high-quality Japanese projects become global blue chips in the near future.”
ICL welcomes non-Japanese members as it has recently opened an English channel and appointed a dedicated English-speaking community manager. You can find out more about the group below.

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The content is for informational purposes only. Investment/financial opinions expressed by Web3 Zen.com are not recommendations. As always, please do your own research prior to making any investment decisions.

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