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Like strangers, they eye each other cautiously at first — perhaps even with a trace of suspicion. But the music begins, and instantly the room is transformed into a hall housing a choir of angels. A thunderous applause ensues, some tears fall — and finally the smiles materialize.

This was the experience of 27-year-old Mei Kondo and the 11-strong amateur choir to which she belongs during a visit to the Seijo Care Center in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward in early December to sing for the elderly.

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