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Nightclub hostesses, alcoholics, drug addicts and terminal cancer patients are among the colorful but troubled characters that come knocking on Kazuhiro Sekino’s door seeking guidance, repentance or, occasionally, an outlet for pent-up aggression.

“I’ve been strangled by an ex-con and had to subdue a suicidal woman who came in waving a knife,” says the 39-year-old pastor at the Tokyo Lutheran Church, located within walking distance of Kabukicho, Japan’s most notorious red-light district. “That’s why I work out at a kickboxing gym twice a week. Not to hurt anyone, but to protect myself.”

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