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Coming of age in Japan

In 50 years, Japan has hurtled from devastation to post-industrialism. Is it now counting the psychic cost? The Aum gas attack and similar disturbing events have shocked the world. Lesley Downer explores the country's shifting values by talking to members of a youth cult with mass support, the otaku

By Lesley Downer   November 1995

Saturday night in Centre-gai, the main drag in Shibuya, Tokyo’s youth district. It is early, barely seven o’clock, though the street is already full of pleasure-seekers. I am with friends, fresh from England, who are shocked to see, just behind us, a group of young women staggering about. They are little more than schoolgirls, plump, in short skirts and ankle socks. And they are either drunk or high. One crouches over a drain and vomits copiously. Another supports her, giggling, as the group reel into a bar.

Worse is to come. A group of thugs descends upon us. They are…

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