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A dreary drizzle of rain falls on the November day I’ve set aside for walking out along the Kokubunji gaisen (cliff line) in western Tokyo. Despite the weather, my hope is to catch some late autumn colors, so I yank on my trusty rubber birdwatching boots and head out west on the Chuo Line.

Kokubunji Station, rebuilt back in April, is now as fresh and fashionable as a mini Ginza. I nip into the new Kokubunji City Information Service, a tidy local tourist office, to find it manned by Satoshi Hamada, 68.

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