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The Boston Globe

Travel

First impressions of Japan — meaningful or cliché?

F inding myself wide awake at 4:30 a.m., I took a photograph of the view out my window. Orange street lights, a deserted car park. A handy visual prompt, I told myself, if I ever needed reminding of what desolation feels like. I was alone in a drab hotel room in a city the color of smudged charcoal — a city I had not even heard of the previous week: Fukuoka.

Outside was dark and overcast, the kind of overcast you know will be around for days. It was, I couldn’t help thinking, all very “Lost in Translation” — except that one thing was missing: Scarlett Johansson.

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