It is 8:30 on a cold Saturday night in mid-December. Around the East Exit of Shinjuku Station, immaculately dressed and preened people of all ages are waiting, smartphones in hand, for their friends or co-workers to arrive.

Many of them are likely about to embark on a night of eating, drinking and revelry in one or more of the hundreds of restaurants, bars, karaoke boxes and clubs packed into the sprawl of crowded alleys that make up one of Tokyo’s top entertainment districts.

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