The Intersection of Japanese Philosophy and Token Incentives in Network Building


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 15, 2023

3 min read


The Intersection of Japanese Philosophy and Token Incentives in Network Building


In today's rapidly evolving world, the incorporation of unique ideas and insights has become crucial for businesses to thrive. Two seemingly unrelated topics, the Japanese philosophy of "明浄正直" (honesty and integrity) and the limitations of token incentives in network building, can provide valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and innovators. By exploring the common points between these topics, we can uncover actionable advice that can be applied to various business scenarios.

The Influence of Japanese Philosophy on Business:

Japan's geographical location at the eastern edge of the Eurasian continent has played a significant role in shaping its cultural and philosophical landscape. Over the centuries, ideas and philosophies from East Asia, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, and Shintoism, have converged in Japan, creating a unique cultural tapestry. However, despite possessing this cultural treasure, Japan has not fully utilized it in business practices.

Token Incentives and Passive Participation:

Token incentives have gained popularity in the realm of network building. Projects like Helium, Arweave, and Compound have successfully implemented token incentives to encourage passive participation from users. These networks offer financial benefits to users without requiring active engagement, which increases the utility of the network. However, networks with passive participation are relatively rare, and their success hinges on attracting the right type of users.

The Limits of Token Incentives and Active Participation:

Bootstrapping a network successfully involves targeting underserved users who deeply feel the problem being addressed by the network. Token incentives, although effective in attracting users, may attract individuals solely motivated by financial gains rather than the network's utility. This misalignment can hinder the network's growth and sustainability. Looksrare and Sushiswap serve as examples of networks that faced challenges when financial incentives and network utility were disconnected.

Linking Token Incentives to Network Utility:

To overcome the limitations of token incentives, it is crucial to link them directly to network utility. Users should only receive token rewards if they add value to the network through specific, desirable actions. This approach ensures that the network attracts and retains users who contribute meaningfully to its growth and sustainability. By aligning token incentives with network utility, businesses can cultivate an engaged and active user base.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Understand the cultural and philosophical foundations of your business environment: Take inspiration from Japan's cultural history and incorporate relevant ideas and philosophies into your business practices. Emphasize honesty, integrity, and a sense of purpose to create a strong foundation for growth.
  • 2. Identify and target the right type of users: Instead of solely relying on financial incentives, focus on attracting users who genuinely resonate with the problem your network or product aims to solve. Seek out individuals who are willing to engage with your network, even if it requires some friction.
  • 3. Link token incentives to specific, desirable actions: Rather than rewarding users solely for adoption, design token incentives that encourage actions that directly contribute to the network's utility. This approach ensures that users are actively engaged in adding value and fosters a sustainable and thriving ecosystem.


The convergence of Japanese philosophy and token incentives provides valuable insights for entrepreneurs and innovators. By incorporating the principles of honesty, integrity, and purpose into business practices and aligning token incentives with network utility, businesses can build engaged and sustainable networks. Understanding the cultural and philosophical foundations of your business environment and targeting the right users are crucial steps in creating a successful network. By implementing these actionable pieces of advice, businesses can overcome the limitations of token incentives and thrive in the evolving landscape of network building.

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