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At 3 p.m. precisely, a staffer in meikyoku kissa Lion in Shibuya quietly announces the start of today’s “concert.” Silence descends as she places a record on the player. A gray-haired customer puffs on a cigarette at his corner table.

A Beethoven piano sonata soon permeates the dim interior (thick curtains shut out the outside world) where a few solitary figures are seated at tables, illuminated by orange lamplight. Nobody is talking — the only voices heard are whispered orders for coffee.

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