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The young man at the ticket gate thanked us politely as we stepped off the platform and through the wicket. The ride from Ikebukuro in Tokyo had been short, and somewhere between Tokorozawa and Seibu-Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture the concrete-gray city landscape had given way to brilliant shades of green. Outside the station, the police box resembled a log cabin, and there wasn’t a convenience store in sight.

We were definitely not in Tokyo anymore.

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