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“How would I describe Kabukicho? Frankly, I’m not sure,” popular author Hirokatsu Azuma was quoted as saying in the now-defunct monthly Gendai magazine back in January 1999. “If you say it’s a scary place, you could be right; and if you say it’s a place where you can have fun, well, that’s right too.”

The writer of that Gendai piece, Tsukasa Yoshida, had investigated “Asia’s largest adult entertainment district,” and pondered the reasons why so many Japanese novelists were cranking out lurid tales of the supposedly crime-infested 360,000 sq.-meter area, which, some writers suggested, was on the verge of being usurped by foreign crime syndicates.

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