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The backstreets of Kabukicho are emphatically not guidebook Japan. There are no raked gardens of tranquillity or mile-high electronics shops. No giant Hello Kitty effigies or schoolgirls giggling behind their hands. Not real ones, anyway.

We’re in the back end of Tokyo’s red light district. Tangled in a cat’s cradle of power lines, it’s a scrubby fretwork of low-rise corridors, barely wide enough for the blacked-out Benzes that routinely slip past. Between the love hotels and host bars and noodle shacks, there are thousands of pot plants, incongruously meticulous. You wonder who waters them, and with what.