Through a digital demonstration project, Kumamoto Prefecture takes a bold leap toward modernizing its traditional Japanese spirits brand, Kuma Shochu. Spearheaded by New World Lab’s COSMIZE, Startale Labs Japan, Mizuho Bank, and Blue Lab, the initiative forms part of the “FY2023 DX demonstration project using Web3 and other advanced technologies”.
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Modernizing Kuma Shochu’s 500-year brand
The primary goal is to elevate the brand strength of Kuma Shochu by utilizing Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse. The collection will be minted on the Astar blockchain, serving as the project’s backbone.
Born from the “Kumamoto DX Promotion Consortium” collaborative ethos established in 2022, this initiative highlights the convergence of industry, academia, government, and financial sectors. The consortium aimed at utilizing blockchain and NFT technologies to address regional challenges and transform traditional services, setting Kumamoto at the forefront of digital innovation.
The heart of the project revolves around the cherished Kuma Shochu brand, a distinct distilled spirit with over 500 years of rich history rooted in Kumamoto.
NFT collection details
The digital initiative aims not only to expand brand recognition but also to engage a wider demographic through issuing NFTs and hosting various metaverse events. The mechanism of engagement is through a three-tier NFT system. Interested parties are issued a “Base NFT”, forming the foundation for further interactions.
As individuals contribute towards promoting the spirits brand, they are rewarded with a “Parts NFT”, commemorating their efforts. A “True NFT” awaits those who hold both the Base and Parts NFTs, offering tangible benefits like exchange tickets and invites to exclusive tasting events.
Engaging younger demographics through metaverse events
Besides the NFT incentives, the project also delves into the metaverse, organizing events in a virtual realm sponsored by Kumamoto Prefecture. This aspect aims to allure younger generations, traditionally less interested in shochu, by offering a modern twist to the appreciation of this age-old spirit.
COSMIZE is pivotal in creating and issuing the Metaverse spaces and NFTs, leveraging its expertise in the extended reality (XR) domain. Startale Labs Japan steps in with comprehensive technical support in blockchain and NFT areas, backed by a rich history of developing the Astar Network.
Mizuho Bank takes a broader role, promoting the demonstration project through events in tandem with Kumamoto Prefecture. Meanwhile, Blue Lab issues NFTs and ensures holders receive their related benefits.
The collaborative endeavor intends to extend partnerships to local brewers soon. The overarching aim remains to foster a community around the Japanese spirits brand that spans across generations.
Authentic distilled liquor
Kuma Shochu stands as one of the few authentic shochu brands recognized with a regional designation. Produced by 27 breweries in the Hitoyoshi region, over 200 brands are sold under the brand’s banner. This initiative marks a significant stride in preserving and promoting a treasured regional heritage in a digital epoch.
On a broader spectrum, this project reflects a nuanced approach toward regional brand promotion amid a rapidly digitalizing global landscape. The interplay of blockchain, NFTs, and the metaverse provides a blueprint for other traditional brands seeking modern avenues for brand engagement and expansion.