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The streets of Golden Gai, in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, are narrow and straight, with crates and plants from small bars bleeding into the walkways, and lanterns and neon signs overhead casting the pavement and ramshackle structures in a yellow, red and white glow.

The bars are reached by narrow doors, or even narrower staircases. Most seat fewer than 10 customers, with posters, shelves of records or bottles of liquor crowding the cramped interiors giving each its unique charm. It all seems chaotic and disorderly, an unplanned concrete jungle.

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