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Tangled up in Tokyo, the Japanese side of Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan performs during a segment honoring Director Martin Scorsese at the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 12, 2012.   © Reuters

This April, Bob Dylan, the legendary American singer-songwriter, will make his eighth tour of Japan, playing 16 concerts over a period of just four weeks. As usual that is more dates than he plays in any other foreign country on his Never Ending Tour, as his busy concert schedule is known. Dylan, now 74, is a revered figure in Japan. Indeed, to mark his 2014 tour, a Shinto-style Dylan shrine was set up in Osaka, complete with red "torii" shrine gate, "omikuji" paper fortunes and shrine maidens in traditional red and white garb.

     But long before he first visited the country, in the late 1970s, Dylan made his presence felt. According to Toshiyuki 'Heckel' Sugano, who was Dylan's A&R (artist and repertoire) man at CBS-Sony in the 1970s, Dylan was a key figure in Japan's turbulent counter-culture.

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