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A decade ago, Hiroaki Suzuki was a mid-twenties automotive engineer working in his hometown of Utsunomiya when an evening at a local yakitori restaurant prompted him to abruptly change the course of his life.

As Suzuki ate, a diner sitting near him finished their meal and thanked the chef not with using the standard phrase gochisou-sama deshita (literally translated as “it was a feast”) but with the more direct arigato.

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