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“Swedish name, non-Swede” is how my American friend Sven used to like to introduce himself. Looking a little like a young Jerry Lewis, the non-Swede lived in an old 1LDK (Japanese estate agent-ese for “one bedroom with lounge-dining room-kitchen”) in the heart of Shinsaibashi in central Osaka, five minutes walk from thousands of hostesses, two Irish pubs and several hundred sunakku (Japanese-style bars).

“Did you know that enough money is spent in Shinsaibashi in one evening to feed sub-Saharan Africa for a week?” he used to quote with learned gravitas, making it up as he went along.

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