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On a cherry-blossom blessed curve of Yokohama’s Ooka River lies Koganecho — the town of gold. For the past 60 years, however, this alluring name has felt like a bad joke to local residents.

In World War II, American B-29s bombed the area flat, and the black market that sprang from the rubble quickly became teamed with narcotics and prostitution. During the 1950s, American bebop pianist Hampton Hawes and the father of the Beatniks, William S. Burroughs, extolled the potency of the area’s drugs, while director Akira Kurosawa chose Koganecho to depict the evils of heroin in his 1963 thriller, “High and Low.”

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