Japan is a land of deep forests, which provide a rich timber resource of both soft and hard woods. It is hardly surprising that so many woodworking techniques, crafts and disciplines evolved in the country, as wood in just about every form has, since ancient times, been almost synonymous with life itself.
Kyosashimono dates back to the Heian period (794-1185). Specialist cabinet-makers, however, did not appear until the Muromachi period (1392-1573), when this form of joinery developed in step with the ceremonial drinking of tea.
Richard Geoffroy, Creator and Chef de Cave of Dom Pérignon since 1990, met Shuji Nakagawa who is a Master of traditional Japanese woodcraft. He is walking in the steps of his father, Kiyotsugu Nakagawa, promoted to “Japan National Living Treasure” in 2001 for his craftmanship. Mr. Nakagawa is particularly gifted at crafting Oke, the traditional wooden Japanese bucket (for example bath buckets). He had crafted Kyosashimono Champagne cooler for Dom Pérignon… made out of wood!
Mr. Nakagawa is one of the chosen few with a license to buy the Koyamaki grown in the Japanese Emperor’s woods. The Koyamaki is a precious pine tree wood, from one of the oldest tree species in the world. It is a natural thermal insulator, very light, and also offers high insulation from humidity: a perfect combination of properties for a cooler which can safely find its place on a tatami mat. The wood staves, of a singular white color and surprisingly grainy texture, are carefully prepared and assembled so that no external element is used to tie them together, in the same way a cooper would work. The structure is reinforced by three metal rings. Mr. Nakagawa explained to me that the unique, harmonious curve of this cooler was inspired by the shape of the Dom Pérignon bottle. He had to build a new block plane as well as other tools specifically to create this handmade, limited edition Champagne cooler.
Embodying the very essence of Japanese aesthetics and meticulous artistic craftsmanship, the elegant simplicity of the Champagne Cooler’s graceful lines conceals a wealth of technical ingenuity refined over centuries.
15 months waiting for this pod to receive in Japan.
The Vermicular enameled cast-iron pot retails for ¥25,200($250). Despite the steep price tag, orders started pouring in even before it went on sale in 2010. Today the boom shows no signs of abating. Demand continues to outstrip production, and customers today must wait fully 15 months to receive their order.
The company that manufactures Vermicular, is a small firm in Nagoya that produces industrial equipment parts. Vermicular is the first product the company designed and marketed on its own. But mention of the arrival of a Vermicular pot, however, is guaranteed to impress.
The pot body and lid are built to fit perfectly. When you cook, you will find out it worths waiting for 15 months to get this pot!!
Do you know many Japanese local governments back up art festivals and budding artists ?
The recent most famous one is Setouchi Art Festival (瀬戸内国際芸術祭, Setouchi Triennale). It will be held from Oct 5 to Nov 4. Setouchi (瀬戸内) is inland sea and there are about 3000 islands including uninhabited small ones. The festival is the second time in 3 years. Originally, the event was hatched out in order to revitalize the towns that have been facing depopulation. The idea was mainly to recycle and re
The arts were created recycling the empty houses and desterilize natural materials and objects in the towns, which are naive, audacious, and impressive.
With the increased interest in Japanese cuisine and culture, the Japanese kitchen knife has received grown attention from not only professionals but also from informed enthusiasts around the world. Bringing out the best of the ingredients is one of the signature culinary methods of Japanese cuisine.
The Sharper the edge of a piece of Sashimi indicates the freshness of the fish and special knives for that exclusive purpose were made so chefs were able to slice in one stroke. You can say that the knife is what gives Sashimi its edge. This is why a good Japanese sushi chef is very particular about their knife of choice. Today, some of the finest chefs from not only Japan but all over the world come to Japan looking for their perfect knife. One of the popular blades that we carry is the edgy authentic Japanese knife called the “Wabocho”. As Japanese culture and cuisine have been spreading internationally, this knife in particular has been gathering attention among top notch chefs of Japanese cuisine from around the globe.
How sharp it is? You can check the video below and see how sharp the Japanese knife is.
Outstanding knives “Wabocho” with traditional blade shapes have been made in the traditional manner in small Japanese swordsmith’s shops for centuries, often with a high level of manual work or even completely handmade. They are valued by experts because of the best steels, carefully selected materials for the handles and ferrules, a high level of workmanship, original design – and last but not least, extreme sharpness and sharpness retention. The blades usually have a hard carbon steel core forge welded to one or more outer layers of iron – similar to multilayer Samurai swords. Traditional materials and forms are also used for the handles.
We would introduce one good example of “Wabocho” shops. Moritaka Hamono has been producing swords for over 700 years. To preserve this ancient tradition, its master swordsmiths continue to handcraft knives and swords that samurai would be proud of. The outstanding quality of its blades is established by using a combination of a steel core and iron cladding. The steel core gives the knives razor sharp edges, while the iron cladding ensures durability that surpasses any mass production knives. Their extensive knowledge and experience regarding the properties of these high quality materials allows them to exploit the full potential of these steels, resulting in the production of a superior knife.
How popular “Wabocho” is ? Don’t get surprise. If you order Moritaka Hamono’s knife today, the delivery of the product takes a 12 month. But don’t worry. There are many other good “Wabocho” shops in Japan and the best place to find one is Kappabashi Street in Tokyo. So visit Tokyo and get ones.
Many Japanese likes robot. Why ? Maybe we grew up around Japanese anime and manga, and many of them are about humanoid robot. Robots are commonplace in Japanese popular culture, from relatively low-tech Hello Kitty to Sony‘s AIBO, a robot dog so beloved by some owners that they make birthday cakes for their metallic pooches.
Sony developed a pet robot, ‘AIBO‘ means partner (相棒） in Japanese.
Now, we have a new robot hero, ‘Kirobo‘, the Japan’s first robot astronaut and the first robot to speak in outer space.
Kirobo, joint project of University of Tokyo and Toyota, is just a knee-high robot with voice- and facial-recognition technology and the world’s first space conversation experiment between a robot and human.
The first Star Wars series movie was released 1977. We are so used to see robots in the outer space. But actually, it is only the last month that the robot was sent to the space. Kirobo spoke its first orbital words while floating aboard the International Space Station.
Kirobo said “On August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all”. Kirobo only speaks Japanese and is designed to help researchers explore the possibilities of coexistence with robots during long space voyages of the future.
In Japan, we are culturally open to robots, on account of animism and we don’t make a distinction between inanimate objects and humans. We have been inventing on consumer robots aimed at altering everday life.
Some of them play the violin, dance, support elderly people by lifting and carrying humans, and even cook for you. Maybe in the future, a robot will become an important family member in Japan. If these robots are affordable price, Yes, I want one !
Many of you may know Washi, that is Japanese traditional paper made using fibers from the bark of gampi tree, mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry. Washi-Choso is the kind of carving art using Washi, wires, wood, hemp strings, and clay. This art is not very popular and even not many Japanese know it.
The artist of Washi-Choso, Utsumi Kiyoharu (内海清美) is the great master.
He was born in Tokyo in 1937 and graduated from Tokyo University of Arts. His major concepts of the art is people in the Japanese traditional history. He has made the Pope a present of his art called “Susanoo”. In Japanese mythology, Susanoo, the powerful storm of Summer, is the brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the Moon.
Kabuki-za Theater at Ginza, the original opened its doors in 1889, has just finished the three year’s renovation and reopened in April, 2013 as fifth generation’s Kabuki-za.
On fifth floor, there is a cafe and you can see on top of the theater. One of the unique characteristics of Japanese houses is their roof tiles “kawara”. It is believed that Japanese roof tiles prevent evil form coming into the house. There are a wide range of kawara designs with respective meaning. For example, the kawara of an imaginary killer whale design has a meaning of fire prevention as the killer whale is a symbol ofa powerful creature in the ocean. Another popular design of kawara in Buddhist temples is the lotus flower as lotuses are symbol of new life and reincarnation in Buddhism.
Do you know what design of kawara in Kabuki-za theater is ? It is phoenix. In front of the theater, you will find Yagura, a woodencubic frame, covered with blue cloth on which is dyed a large pattern of the theater’s crest phoenix as well.
Though you do not see Kabuki performance, you can go to the roof-top cafe without any ticket. There is also an Kabuki museum for free admission. If you have a chance to come to Tokyo, Kabuki-za theater is worth visiting.
These days, people writes less and less by hand. There are times when a text message just won’t do… but how can you convey your congratulations or condolences if you can only manage a scribble?
For the Namiki Collections of Pilot Pen, skilled Japanese artisans use the finest materials to create a line of writing instruments that perform flawlessly.
Check this video and see that you can write the variety of fonts by just one pen.
Pilot Pen Corporation has a pen museum in Tokyo to introduce the history of pen and also beautiful pens and these are some of its collection of finest fountain pens.
Maki-e lacquering, a centuries-old technique in which multi-layered patterns are drawn on the barrel and cap with urushi – sap from Japanese lacquer trees. The hand-painted designs richly interpret scenes of nature in precious metals and lavishly colored pigments.
① Maki-e Fountain Pen “Araiso” Mr. Naoji Terai*
② Maki-e Fountain Pen “Suzuran” Mr. Yoshikuni Taguchi*
③ Maki-e Fountain Pen “Bugaku” 1998
*Living National Treasure
To write is to express thought, and can be said to be an intelligent activity that is distinctively human. We should sometimes write a letter or card by hand instead of using PC.
Many of you who like Japan or have visited Japan may know “Akihabara”(秋葉原), or called shortly “Akiba”, where a lot of stuff are sold relating electronic devices, animation, figures, or subcultures.
Very close to Akiba, there is a place called “2k540 AKI-OKA Artisan”. “2k540″ is pronounced “Ni Ke Yon Go Maru”, named from railway terminology meaning the place 2.5 km from Tokyo station.
This is the place under railway between “Akihabara” station and “Okachimachi” station, where a lot of small shops of artisans that sell hand-made crafts from traditional to modern. Okachimachi used to have a lot of artisans and craftworkers who developed Japanese traditional crafts in Edo era.
2k540 AKI-OKA Artisan was established aiming to provide the place to unrenowned or young artisans to show their activities and appeal their talents.
Ms. Uchiyama, who makes Kimono gown was coordinator of this event and played “Watering Girl” role !
There was a male Shitate-ya (仕立て屋), who is very rare nowadays.
His live sewing can be seen at YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/user/KimoKame
Male Kimono maker
The house was decorated with several Kimonos and fabrics.
Although, the events finished and there were no live exhibition of sewing now, the place is very nice to visit.
It is only 400 Yen to enter the Museum.
If you have a chance to visit the suburb of Tokyo, why don’ t you try ?
May 5 is a children’s day(‘kogomo no hi’), and the day was originally called ‘Tango no Sekku(端午の節句）’ in Japan. Sekku means a season’s festival (there are five sekku per year). Tango no Sekku marks the beginning of summer or the rainy season. Tan means “edge” or “first” and go means “noon”. Until recently, Tango no Sekku was known as Boy’s Day while Girls’ Day (Hinamatsuri) was celebrated on March 3.
During this season, you will see carp streamers fluttering in the wind and the ornaments such as armors and helmets decorated at the alcove of houses. At this point we would like to introduce you to the meaning and origins of Tango-no Sekku (端午の節句) and how it is celebrated in the present day.
Although it is not known precisely when this day started to be celebrated, it was probably during the reign of the Empress Suiko (593–628 A.D.). In Japan, Tango no Sekku was assigned to the fifth day of the fifth month after the Nara period.
During the Kamakura Period (1192-1333), Samurai family controlled Japan. The Japanese word “shobu” means to honor military power or bravery. And the “calamus” iris decorations that were used as talismans of good luck during the “Tango no Sekku” ceremony are also called “shobu”. So “Tango no Sekku” was changed to “Shobu no Sekku” ( a day for honoring power and bravery ) by the Samurai. Armors and helmets, which were used for protection in battle, began to be displayed as celebratory decorations.
In the Edo Period (1600-1868), the Tokugawa shogun settled May 5th as one of the important Sekku. Whenever a boy baby was born to the shogun, banners and flags were flown at the front entrance of the palace to celebrate the event. This custom soon spread among the general public. People were proud to act in the same way as the shogun and designed “koinobori”, carp streamers.
The price of the doll varies from several thousand to fifteen million yen, depending on the size, the number of items, and the name of an artist. In many cases, a family and relatives dine together for a boy’s festival. Many young parents live in apartments which have little space for a large gorgeous doll. It is often said they put the doll in the closet and never let it out. In spite of this, parents would prepare dishes to please children, or take their children out for a recreation on the holiday.
Do you have a children’s day in your country ? and how do you cerebrate it ?
Do you like to design your nail as one of your favorite anime characters ? And what about nails with different character designs on each nail? According to the recent online survey, anime design nail art is becoming more and more popular by the day.
Expressing yourself through gel and 3-D acrylic nail art has become a really big thing right now. Also, the popularity of nail art stickers means anyone can get into nail art really easily. The demand for personalized anime character design nail, among both celebrities and ordinary people, seems to continue to increase.
There are many more designs you can check and some tutorial videos if you want to try by yourself.
There is even specialist shop in Akihabara, the famous hub for all things manga and anime. The nail artist will design whatever images you bring. Which anime character is your favorite ?
We see various technologies advancing everyday everywhere.
Cooking industry is not the exception.
When eating at Japanese restaurant namend “Hanasaka-Jisan” in Shibuya, Tokyo, we were surprised to find vegetables rapped with “Plastic” looking stuff put directly on the hot plate !
This is called CARTA FATA, invented in cooperation with an Italian chef, Fabio Tachella. This is heat-resistent until 230℃, and can be used for grill, steaming, boiling, frying in the oil, and freezing. The string that ties around the neck is made of silicon.
This amazing cooking technology have enabled cooks make more creative and new dishes that did not exist in the past !
Foodstuffs can be cooked by their own moisture and fat so that they will be healthy without adding other ingredients. What is good above all is it keeps juice and flavor of the food or extracts even better.
Technologies that make people lives better and happier are very much welcomed, aren’t they ?
Mitaka Forest Ghibli Museum is a museum featuring the Japanese anime work of Studio Ghibli.
Hayao Miyazaki designed the museum himself, using drawn storyboards similar to the ones he makes for his films. The design was influenced by European architecture, such as the hilltop village of Calcata in Italy. Miyazaki’s aim was to make the building itself part of the exhibit
Jusaburo Tsujimura is one of most authentic doll artists in Japan. Most of his dolls are traditional Japanese in Kimono, but he also makes some western style dolles. They are so sultry as if they are really alive.
There is “Jusaburo” museum shop in Nihonbashi, Tokyo.
You can learn doll making there as well. If you have any chances to visit Tokyo, it is one of the places worth to take a look at.
By the way, Jusaburo is 80 years old men still very active and energetic ! He was born in 1933. Today one of Japan’s finest doll-makers, he actively expands the scope of his art into areas such as costume design, direction, and script writing for stage and film. His performances have received high acclaim including those in America, Europe and Hong Kong.
The Japanese tend to value small things over big. This way of thinking evolved over thousands of years. It has both practical and religious roots. Also making miniature things are well aware to prove their skills.
For example, Sony created Walkman in 1979 which was less than half size of its competition at that time using their ability to miniaturise designs.
This time is the book that your reading glass might not help you with this one.
Japanese publisherm Toppan Printing Co. who have been making micro books since 1964, created the smallest ever printed book, with pages measuring 0.75 millimetres (0.03 inches) which are impossible to read with the naked eye.
Toppan Printing said letters just 0.01 mm wide were created using the same technology as money printers use to prevent forgery. has created the 22-page micro-book, entitled Shiki no Kusabana (flowers of seasons), contains names and monochrome illustrations of Japanese flowers such as the cherry and the plum.
The seasonal flower micro-book is currently exhibited at Toppan’s Printing Museum in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward. The book, together with magnifying glass and enlarged copy, sells for ¥29,400 (about $300) at museum shop. This may be a good souvenir from Tokyo don’t you think ?
March 3rd is Hina Matsuri, Japan’s annual girls day festival. As part of the festivities, girls are given a set of ornamental dolls, representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.
Th dolls are put on display from February through March 3 — a ritual believed to bring about good health for the girls. The dolls, which are sometimes made of materials as delicate as paper and clay, are believed to ward off evil and are usually kept within the family for generations.
There is a very good opportunity to see very best Hina Dolls at Mitsui Memorial Museum right now, Mitsui Memorial Museum is holding the exhition “Hina Matsuri Dolls from the Mitsui Family Collection” returns this year to showcase a number of Girls Day Festival ornamental dolls, from February 7 till April 7 this year.
The highlight of the show is a complete set of dolls, which is being displayed on a huge three-meter-wide, tiered platform. The dolls and accessories, such as miniature furniture, all belonged to women in the Mitsui family — including Motoko (1869-1946), Toshiko (1901-1976), and Okiko (1900-1980) — who have been passing them down for generations.
If you are in Tokyo around this period, it is nice to visit there.
Do you like Sushi roll, which is wrapped by seaweed ? Traditional Sushi roll is wrapped by a black squired seaweed. Have you ever seen sushi roll wrapped by design seaweed ?
These Design Nori (seaweed) carefully crafted into intricate and beautiful designs, take the sushi experience to the next level.
These Design Nori developed by I&S BBDO, Tokyo won the Best of Show Design Lotos at Adfest in Thailand for their Umino Seaweed designs. The designs merge traditional Japanese pattern design with the latest cutting technology. The five designs: Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Mizutama (Water Drops), Asanoha (Hemp), Kikkou (Turtle Seashell), Kumikkou (Tortoise Shell) were developed to help the North East Japan company to rebuild itself after the 2011 tsunami. This area provides the seaweed which is thick, has luster, and is very delicious. It doesn’t stick and it enhances other ingredients. Thin seaweed is too weak to be used for Design Nori.
The creator of this Design Nori said that Japanese people are eating less seaweed than before and he wanted to do something about the decline in demand, make some waves in a positive way. He wanted people to know how interesting and appealing seaweed is, not to mention delicious.
It’s refreshing that such amazing technology and creativity wasn’t marred by some tacky logo branding. Instead, the designs conveyed a classic brand heritage and positive hope for the future. The designers carved various Japanese classic patterns that signify happiness and long-life right into the Nori.
Please visit their Facebook to get more information.
Kanzashi, which is a hair ornaments in traditional Japanese hir styles, came into widely use during the Edo period (1700s), when artisans in Edo (present-day Tokyo) acquired the techniques of making Hana Kanzashi in Kyoto. These kanzashi are created from squares of thin silk fabric by a technique called “tsumami-zaiku.” Each square is multiply folded and combined with another to create patterns of flowers and birds.
There is a video showing how tsumami zaiku kanzashi is made.
kanzashi came to be used as hairpins to put hair together with the growing aesthetic sense of women. What is more, kanzashi came to have a different aspect with the change. Other than the tool to put hair together, kanzashi became complete accessories to decorate the hair. It is said that the change of kanzashi made more variations of women’s hairdos.
At the present time, Edo tsumami kanzashi are popular hair ornaments worn at some formal occasions like New Year’s Day, coming-of-age ceremonies, and so on.The coming of age is Jan. 14 this year and many Japanese women wear Kimono to attend the ceremony. We see beautiful kanzashi that decorate the hair on such occasions.
These skilfully hand crafted flowers are made of Japanese Chirimen, silk and fine quality cotton. Our kimokame artisan, Rumi Tsuchihashi made them by Tsumami Zaiku technique. This eye-catching accessories are good for your western fashion.
Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper holding, which started in the 17th century. ‘Ori’ means ‘holding’ and ‘gami’ means paper. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami. Paper cutting and gluing is usually considered Kirigami.
The best known origami model is probably the Japanese paper crane. In general, these designs begin with a square sheet of paper whose sides may be different colors or prints.
Modern origami is a unique sculptural art. Each origami design must be individually folded; there is no mass-production process.
Satoshi Kamiya, 30 year old, is among the most advance origami master in the world. All his works are only single sheet of square paper, and it can’t be cut or glued.
There is a video showing how he make his amazing works. Simply, Amazing, and it worth watching. So check this video.
It is already in December. At the end of Year, there are many fairs in temples throughout Japan. My favorite one is Hagoita-ichi (Battledore Fair) in Asakusa and will be held in Sensou-ji Temple, Asakusa(Tokyo) from Dec. 17th to 19th this year.
The hagoita originated in China and was brought over to Japan during the Muromachi period(14 – 16th century). Hagoita were used as decorative battledores or presented as New Year gifts. Hagoita were believed to repel evil, and had connotations of healthy growth.
In the late Edo period(19th century), a Chinese technique called ‘oshi’ was first used for hagoita. A design is made, then cardboard is tacked against a board, which is covered with cloth to give a 3-d effect.
At that time, like ukiyo-e, hagoita featured similar designs with portraits of Kabuki actors being very popular. At the annual year-end fairs in Edo, many people bought hagoita with portraits of popular actors. Today, beautiful hagoita make a popular gift as a traditional Tokyo handicraft to bring luck at New Year.
Hagoita-ichi is a traditional fair dating back to the Edo Period, but it was apparently only after World War II that the name Hagoita-Ichi became popular. Many visitors come each year. The Hagoita-ichi is an annual fair held in its precincts at the end of the year. Near the Hondo or main hall of Senso-ji Temple, some 50 open-air stalls selling hagoita (battledores), shuttlecocks, kites and other New Year decorations stand huddled together, and numerous people gather here from all over the country. The market was full of “decorations” for new years that bring good luck for the coming year.
Additionally, at the Hagoitaichi, hagoita with pictures of the people who received the most attention during the year, are notable and are often taken up by the media. There are various hagoita, so find your favorite one!
Tenugui is dyed cotton cloth. Japanese Tenugui possesses a very long history. Its origin is thought to go as far back as ancient Kofun era. In the Edo period (1592 – 1868) cotton began to be cultivated in various parts of Japan and TENUGUI became a necessary item for living. There are no rules in the way of using Tenugui. It can be used in a variety of ways as wiping cloth, headband, place mats or centerpieces, hand towel, wrapping cloth, interior decoration, or souvenir. Some are used exclusively for the traditional dancing.
For using as place mats or centerpieces
For using as room’s decorations
This motif of Todaya’s tenugui is 16 different usages of tenugui, especially in the kitchen and in play scenes.
In the Todaya shop, Tenugui makers in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Tenugui is used as room’s decoration showing the feeling of the season.
Tenugui is very popular for long in Japan. You may have more useful ways of tenugui. First please check out below for our selections and get one and enjoy creating new idea of using Tenugui.
Kimokame.com is happy to announce that we have started to sell Todaya’s Chusen dyeing Tenugui.
Todaya has stared business in 1872 in the Nihonbashi, Tokyo. In 1872, everyone would go to the public bath bringing his or her Tenugui as towel. Everybody used Tenugui to dry hands, wipe off sweat, or cover the desired part of a body or an object. A wornout Tenugui would be recycled into a rag for house-cleaning, or into abandage to cover a wound. In short, Tenugui played an important role in Japanese daily life.
As of today, the virtue of Tenugui that makes it far smarter than a simply printed fabric is that, made with a dyeing technique called Chusen.
Firstly in Chusen, a technique called Sashiwake is employed. Whereas most dyeing procsses utilize a monochrome stencil, Chusen enjoys a multi-color stencil, enabling the simultaneous use of several dyes. Another significant technique in Chesen is called Bokashi. Unlike Sashiwake, no preventive paste is necessary since color gradations and shadings, the particular effects produced by the technique, rather encourage a blending of colors.
Secondly, Tenugui is always reversible, with patterns appearing both on front and reverse side. To Japanese, the exposure of a reverse side has always been undesirable. This obsession is reflected in Katazome, a dyeing method in which the application of a paste resist (Kataoki), is repeated twice both on front and reverse side. Chusen, on the other side, which enables the simultaneous application of a paste resist on both sides, requires only one Kataoki. The latter method is also superior in the infiltration of dyes, coloring down to the fiber core by a compressor suction, leaving no trace of which is the front and which the reverse side.
Thirdly, the Chusen stencil is large in size compared to the conventional one, allowing spatial freedom for designs and patterns. For easy handling, the stencil is studded onto the wooden frame upon the application of a paste resist.
A combination of carefully selected colors and materials yields irressistible elegance, and int ehis way, there is nothing that exceeds Chusen-Processes Tenugui.
If you are interested in Chusen dyeing Tenugui, please check out here.
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