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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kamo River Cycling on a Cold February Day

Kamo River二月の京都鴨川自転車で

On a cold mid-February day we were cycling the former redlight district - and now quiet neighborhood - known as Gojo Rakuen.

It abuts the Kamo River between Shichijo Dori and Gojo Dori.

In its heyday, the area was bustling with theaters, restaurants, and brothels.

That ended with the outlawing of prostitution in the late 1950s. Once the ladies of the night closed their shutters for good, so too did the theaters and restaurants.

The area fell into a several decades long funk - some no doubt thought a long overdue "funk" - but is now being reappraised. There is a great cafe - eFish - just south of Gojo Dori on Kiyamachi, and a few other shops worth visiting.

Today, many of the old buildings remain, but the area is a quiet - and pleasant - neighborhood just south of central Kyoto.

Located by the river too has its charms, though, alas, the bike path on the west side of the river stops south of Shijo Dori before coming to Gojo.


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cat Eye Bicycle Lights Made in Osaka


CatEye, the venerable Osaka company, is one of the premier bike light manufacturers in the world.

Models come in large and small, simple and more elaborate, battery-powered and solar.

We have used a small solar-powered Cat Eye light for three years. It has no batteries and has always worked. The beam is strong enough that you don't want to look at it too closely - a great light.

For a full selection of lights, please visit


CycleKyoto Home Page


Monday, February 27, 2012

Cycle Kyoto Chorakukan Cafe Restaurant

Chorakukan Kyoto自転車で長楽館へ

Chorakukan is one of the many period homes in Kyoto that have avoided the wrecking ball and been restored for non-residential uses.

Chorakukan is on the south edge of Maruyama Park, not far from the Path of Nene, Kodaiji Temple, and Gion.

It was designed by J.M. Gardner, and was completed in 1909.

Originally, it served as the summer home for a tobacco magnate.

Today it is a hotel, restaurant, cafe, and venue for wedding parties.

For those with a bit of time or in need of a break after wandering the hills of Higashiyama, Chorakukan is the perfect place for an afternoon coffee.

Maruyama Koen (Park), Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto
Tel: 075 561 0001

Tue. - Sat. 10:00 - 23:00


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Sunday, February 26, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 26 February 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年02月26日

WELL; Personal Health: Pedal Power Comes With a Duty for All The New York Times

Helmet cameras capture bad driving BBC

SRAM Singletrack Mind Enduro Series returns for 2012 Cycling News

Vélo : elles roulent en « fixie » dans un monde de hipsters barbus Rue89

El P2P de las bicicletas El Pais

日本环球旅行者在武汉失窃自行车被追回 Caijing

自転車通行はこちら マナー向上へ区分標示 県庁前 YouTube

Contador back training after doping ban Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


CycleKyoto Home Page


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ryozen Museum of History Remains of Meiji Restoration Exhibit


On the grounds of Kodaiji Temple is the Ryozen Museum of History.

It is currently showing an exhibition entitled "The Remains of the Meiji Restoration."

Following the end of 265 years of military government, in the early 1860s Japan "opened" to the world following the arrival of Admiral Perry's Black Ships.

This lead to great social upheaval. At the time, former samurai gathered in Kyoto, plotting.

Among them were the "Shinsengumi" - a military force led by Sakamoto Ryoma in Kyoto dedicated to suppressing anti-shogunate activities in the 1860s - that clashed with the Bakufu government.

This exhibit focuses on seven areas: Sakamoto Ryoma and Kawada Shoryo, the folly of the end of the Tokugawa Period, feudal lords at the end of the Tokugawa Period, nobility at the end of the Tokugawa Period, Vassals of the Shogunate, "patriots" of the at the end of the Tokugawa Period, and the legendary "Shinsengumi."

The exhibit runs until March 4.


1 Reizencho, Seikanji
Kyoto 605‐0861 
TEL 075 531 3773

Adults: 500 yen
High School Students: 300
Junior High School and Elementary Students: 200


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Friday, February 24, 2012

Cycling Raku Museum Kyoto

Raku Museum Kyoto自転車で樂美術館へ

The Raku Museum in Kyoto is located in north central Kyoto, not far from the Imperial Palace.

It was founded in 1978 by Kakunyu (1918~1980), the 14th generation potter of the Raku family.

The Raku Museum has a collection that consists mainly of ceramics made by the many heads of the Raku family.

There are also documents and tea utensils.

The collection has been formed over 450 years - the oldest item we saw was made in 1598.

The Museum is located next to the family home/compound and is not far from the Urasenke Chado Research Center. It is on Aburanokoji Dori, south of Imadegawa.

The current head of the family, Raku Kichizaemon (1949 - ), is the fifteenth generation ceramicist to lead the Raku family.


Raku Museum
84 Aburanokoji
Nakadachi-uri agaru, Kamigyo-ku
Kyoto 602-0923
Tel: +81 (0)75 414 0304

Opening hours

10:00 ~ 16:30 (last admission 16:00)


Varies depending on the exhibition


Mondays (except National Holidays) and during installation


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Thursday, February 23, 2012


Kamigamo Shrine自転車で北山と上賀茂神社と大徳寺へ

This route in north central Kyoto goes from Kitayama to Kamigamo Shrine. Kamoigamo is a World Heritage Site and one of the most famous places in Kyoto.

Located close to the Kamo River in the northern part of the city, it is a great, great ride.

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on cycling northern Kyoto.

Ride Kamigamo Shrine, ride.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kyoto Bicycles

Kyoto Bicycles京都自転車

Parked in front of a traditional downtown Kyoto shop are the requisite three bicycles.

Moving from Tokyo Cool - messy, exuberant, and pulsating - we were expecting a bit more restraint in the old capital.

Kyoto Cool is indeed restrained compared to Tokyo, but it is messy and lively and funky in its own way.

The riot of Chinese characters (kanji) that is displayed on many shops is one example. Another would be the 37 potted plants in front of most quite small residences.

And, of course, no Kyoto home or business would be complete without three (or more) bicycles parked pell-mell in front.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review The Urban Biking Handbook: The DIY Guide to Building, Rebuilding, Tinkering with, and Repairing Your Bicycle for City Living


The Urban Biking Handbook: The DIY Guide to Building, Rebuilding, Tinkering with, and Repairing Your Bicycle for City Living

The Urban Biking Handbook: The DIY Guide to Building, Rebuilding, Tinkering with, and Repairing Your Bicycle for City Living is a great guide to aspects of the bicycle that most of us never deal with.

Author Charles Haine is a well-known bicycle mechanic who learned his trade at a bicycle co-operative at Oberlin College.

This work is a guide for beginners as well as those more experienced.

It has lots of photos, simple instructions.

It is ideal for those thinking of commuting or buying a bike.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Book Review

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cycle Kyoto Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market Kyoto自転車で京都錦市場へ

Actually, cycling Nishiki Market is a really bad idea (unless it is very late at night and only stray cats are out and about).

The narrow, covered arcade is lined on both sides with stalls and stores and - during store hours - thronged with shoppers.

It is the "kitchen" of Kyoto, and a great place to visit to see local produce, sweets, sake, pickles, sushi, and handmade products.

Nishiki Market is a five-block long nibble. All of the stores have samples out front, and it is impossible to walk far without tasting something.

For those visiting on a bicycle, a better option is to park and walk.

Several bicycle lots are nearby.


The street Nishiki Market is on is parallel to Shijo Avenue, and runs east-west. It is one block north of Shijo Street. For those on foot, go out the south exit of the Daimaru Department Store and turn right (east).

Shrimp and Oysters Nishiki Market

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

This Week in World Cycling News 19 February 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年02月19日

City Council Looks at Police Investigations Into Deaths of Bicyclists The New York Times

London 2012: Britain's Beijing velodrome heroes - where are they now? BBC

RideClean/ elite women's team launches for 2012 Cycling News

« J'ai voté deux fois Le Pen. Cette année, je m'abstiens » Rue89

Un San Valentín de pedales El Pais

甘肃武威选拔毕业半年本科生任副县级干部 Caijing


Olympic velodrome opens for action Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


CycleKyoto Home Page


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Yakult Delivery Bicycle Kyoto

Yakult Bicycle Kyotoヤクルト自転車京都

Parked in front of the main police station in central Kyoto is a Yakult delivery bicycle.

Uniformed Yakult delivery women ply Japanese cities on bikes making their rounds.

They are deliverying the small bottles of Yakult drink.

The drink has a milky sweet flavor, and according to the company's homepage it contains:

"...6.5 billion friendly bacteria to be precise. Called Lactobacillus casei Shirota, they’re named after Dr Shirota who cultivated this unique probiotic strain. These bacteria are scientifically proven to reach the intestines alive where they top up and support the beneficial bacteria already there. The other few ingredients that make up the fermented milk drink help this bacteria stay alive. You see, with Yakult, it’s all about the bacteria."

The drink allegedly is good for digestion.

The bike is an electric powered model, and loaded to the gills with carry-cases and panniers.

Though we are not major consumers of the drink, we are fans of the delivery ladies and their bikes: the Yakult Ladies are always kind and quick with a smile.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Friday, February 17, 2012


Shugakuin Imperial Villa自転車で北野天満宮から平野神社へ

This route in north central Kyoto goes from Kitayama to Shugakuin. Shugakuin is one of the premiere sites in Kyoto.

It is a former royal villa, and - reservation in hand (you need to go the Imperial Palace for this) - it is a must see.

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on cycling northern Kyoto.

Ride Shugakuin, ride.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bicycle Symbol Osaka Street

Bike Symbol Osaka大阪自転車車いす通路

On a pedestrian overpass near Osaka Station, we found this odd marker on the tiled pavement.

The marker was on the part of the overpass that stretches from the Hankyu Department Store's second floor to the Station, and then beyond to the opposite side of the wide street in front of the south exit of the Station.

We are not sure how a wheelchair would or could make use of the overpass: it has no elevators or escalators.

Bicycles would also be tricky. Crossing the overpass would entail carrying a bike up a long flight of stairs, pushing it across to the opposite side, and then carrying it back down.


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hipster Cyclists Osaka

Hipster Cyclists Osaka大阪の自転車ヒップスター

Osaka has a vibrant, rough-edged cycling scene.

Like all Japanese cities, Osaka is easily traversed on two wheels and the bicycle is perceived primarily as a transportation tool.

Young people however are adding a bit of verve to that.

Funky, customized, tricked out bikes are common.

These two guys were out on a Sunday riding south of Osaka Station heading east.


CycleKyoto Home Page


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

23rd Annual Kyoto Wheelchair Race

Kyoto Wheelchair ekiden全国車いす駅伝競争大会京都

This Sunday Kyoto will host the 23rd annual Wheelchair Ekiden Race.

The race is a relay race made up of 25 teams, most of which represent a prefecture (e.g., Kyoto, Osaka, Shiga, etc.) or a city.

After a short opening ceremony the evening before at the Grand Prince Hotel, in Iwakura, the race begins at 11:30 on February 19 at the Kyoto International Conference Center.

The race winds its way through the city, ending at Nishi Kyogoku Stadium.

The route is in five stages - five racers - and is 21.3 km long.

The speed is tremendous, and the excitement palpable.


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Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review One More Kilometre and We're in the Showers


One More Kilometre and We're in the Showers

Tim Hilton writes well, really well.

One More Kilometer and We're in the Showers is a great read, for non-cyclists as well as hard-core cyclists.

Hilton documents the world of bike racing/time trials.

Sounds arcane, a bit dull?

Not in the least. Even as someone who finds many cycling books 1) not well written, and/or 2) slow moving, this one is well worth the time and cost.

Buy on Amazon USA


CycleKyoto Home Page


Sunday, February 12, 2012

This Week in World Cycling 12 February 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年02月12日

Another Tour de France Winner Is Penalized for Doping The New York Times

Cyclist wears a helmet camera to film abusive drivers BBC

Team Sky: Stage four errors have cost Cavendish the lead in Qatar Cycling News

La campagne à vélo, épisode 1 : chez les religieuses de Garges-lès-Gonesse Rue89

Las carreteras no eran para los coches El Pais

发改委:全国政府机构公务用车每周尾号限行一天 Caijing

『少年と自転車』のダルデンヌ兄弟「ふたりが、ある瞬間から一人の人間になる」 Walker Plus

Armstrong says he’s happy investigation over Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yayoi Kusama Exhibit Osaka

Yayoi Kusama草間弥生展覧会大阪

The National Museum of Art, Osaka, is currently hosting a wonderful exhibit, which features work by noted Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Entitled "Eternity of Eternal Eternity," the exhibit shows the most recent works of Yayoi Kusama and runs through April 8.

Kusama has always been a quirky, unusual character. She had hallucinations as a child - hints of mental illness - and began painting in her teens.

Since then, she has continued to create her signature net and polka-dot patterned works.

Kusama became world famous during her fifteen years spent in New York, from 1957 until the early 1970s.

The National Museum of Art, Osaka, is a fabulous facility. It is located close to Nakanoshima, the narrow island that runs through central Osaka. It is an easy ride from both Umeda and Shinsaibashi.


Opening Hours
10 am - 5 pm, Fridays until 7 pm

Admission until 30 minutes before closing; closed Mondays

Admission Fee
Adults: 1,400 Yen
University students: 1,000 Yen
High School students: 700 Yen


CycleKyoto Home Page


Friday, February 10, 2012


Hirano Shrine自転車で北野天満宮から平野神社へ

This route in north central Kyoto goes from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the geisha district Kamishichiken, and last Hirano Shrine (pictured).

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on cycling north-central Kyoto.

Ride Tenjin-san, ride.


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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cycling Japanese Style

Cycling sidewalk in Kyoto日本式の自転車乗り方

Thanks to TokyobyBike for its tongue firmly in cheek take on cycling in Japan.

For tourists to Japan who want to blend in on a bike, from day 1, TokyobyBike recommends the following:

1) Occupy one hand with something other than cycling at all times.

2) Do not, under any circumstances, maintain your brakes (for maximum squeaking).

3) Maintain correct tyre pressure (i.e., don't).

4) Carry more than two children on your bicycle (preferably 3 or 4).

5) Ride against traffic.

6) Avoid noisy distractions (e.g., listen to an iPod while cycling).

To that CycleKyoto would add:

7) Ride on sidewalks. Narrow sidewalks. Fast.

8) When riding on sidewalks, ring bell loudly at pedestrians blocking the way. In particular, ring extra loud at elderly people who are hard of hearing, slow moving, and often found chatting in the middle of sidewalks.

9) While listening to iPod in one ear, talk to friend or text with cell phone using other ear (and hand).

10) Leave bike in rain, uncovered, for months at a time.

Following these simples tips will help foreign cyclists blend right in to the local cycling scene.

Any other suggestions?


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Cycling Tips

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cycling Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine自転車で北野天満宮へ

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician who was exiled by political rivals. Following his death - and many disasters that occurred - many tenmangu shrines were built around Japan to appease the wrongfully exiled Sugawara. The one in Kyoto is perhaps the most important in Japan.

Because of the connection with Sugawara, Kitano Tenmangu is popular with students who visit and pray for success on high school and university exams. In particular, in late January and early February - when the exams are held - the shrine is bustling with earnest young people beseeching the spirit of Sugawara.

Kitano Tenmangu is also well known for its monthly flea market, which is held on the 25th of every month.

There is also a famed grove of plum trees in the rear of the shrine. These bloom in mid-February, as winter is (allegedly) beginning to yield to spring. On a bitter cold day, the perfume smell of the plum trees is like nectar.

Last, adjacent to the shrine is the licensed geisha quarter Kamishichiken. It is the oldest of the geisha areas in Kyoto, and on February 25th the geisha and maiko come to the shrine to take part in an annual ceremony celebrating the plum trees known as baikasai.

Kitano Tenmangu is in north central Kyoto, close to Nishijin and the Golden Pavilion.


Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Hours: 5:00 am to 6:00 pm (summer), though external grounds are open 24 hours
5:30 am to 5:30 pm (winter), though external grounds are open 24 hours

Admission: Free

Flea Market
Hours: 25th of every month from 6:00 am to about 9 pm

Plum Grove and Maple Tree Garden
Hours: Early February to mid March and early November to mid December from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Admission: 600 yen

Plum Blossom in Kyoto©

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cat in Front of Stove Kyoto Nama Chocolat Organic Tea House

Cat in Front of Stove Kyoto京都生チョコのレストランにストーブ前の猫

On a cold winter day last week, a bitter ride over to the Heian Shrine area led to the discovery of the Kyoto Nama Chocolat Organic Tea House.

Housed in a comfortable old house on a side street near the Kampo Cultural Center, the restaurant serves delicious chocolate sets with coffee, tea, or green tea.

The building is more or less as it was when the owners bought it. There are byobu screens, tatami mats, low tables, and painted fusuma.

In addition, a friendly Irish Setter was at the entrance and a cat curled up in front of a stove.

The view from the table was of a small Japanese garden spreading out from the engawa porch.

Kyoto Nama Chocolat Organic Tea House
Okazaki Tenno-cho 76-15
One block east of Okazaki-michi, a two-minute walk south of Marutamachi; look for the big sign on the right hand side.
075 751 2678
Open noon - 5pm. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays.

Nama Chocolate©

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Cold in Kyoto

New Year 2011 Kyoto京都の真冬の寒さ

Winter 2012 has been cold, very cold.

However, except for flurries, it has yet to snow in metropolitan Kyoto (the photo was taken on New Year's Day 2011).

Just beyond the mountains that ring the city of Kyoto is another world however.

In Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, on Friday, 84 cm (33 inches) had accumulated.

Until Sunday, daily temperatures were rising only to about 3-5 degrees C (35 F) in toasty urban Kyoto.

There is now a slight let up in the weather, but another cold front from Siberia is on its way.

At this time of year, every year, we regret not having purchased the lobster claw type bicycle gloves. At least, though, the streets are clean and dry - even after a bit of rain over night - and we commute as always on the bike to the train station.


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Sunday, February 5, 2012

This Week in World Cycling 5 February 2012

tofu seller bike kyoto今週のサイクリング2012年02月05日

Inquiry on Lance Armstrong Ends With No Charges The New York Times

Mark Beaumont Cycling the Americas Blog BBC

Teams stretch from Mallorca to Qatar Cycling News

Comment le sport est passé en "une" Le Monde

Pedaleo a la francesa El Pais

国际赛事 BIKETO|自行车网

米国の自転車王者の捜査打ち切り ドーピング違反疑惑で Hokkaido Shinbun

Greenville, SC chosen to host paracycling worlds Yahoo

Last Week's Cycling News


CycleKyoto Home Page


Saturday, February 4, 2012

No Cycling Kyoto Pavement Marking

No Cycling Kyoto自転車急行禁止京都四条

During a stroll down Shijo Dori, Kyoto's main shopping street, we noticed several of the pictured warnings not to cycle on the sidewalk.

The sign reads:



The X across the image of the cyclist and the "NO!" are clear enough.

The kanji are read "kyuko kinshi" and means "moving at high speed prohibited."

We assume that means "no cycling." The lawyer in us would be tempted to ask a cop if "slow cycling" were allowed.

Not likely.


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Friday, February 3, 2012


 Kinkakuji, Kyoto自転車で金閣寺から妙心寺へ

This route takes in four of the best temples in Kyoto:

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Ryoanji Temple, Ninnaji Temple, and Myoshinji Temple.

For more information, in Japanese (with a link to an English page), here is a page on cycling the area of western Kyoto that is dotted with many temples.

Ride Kinkakuji, ride.


Ninnaji TempleCycleKyoto Home Page


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Review Around the World on a Bicycle Volume 1 From San Francisco to Teheran


Around the World on a Bicycle: Volume 1 From San Francisco to Teheran

San Francisco journalist Thomas Stevens rides from San Francisco to Teheran - in the 1880s.

Around the World on a Bicycle: Volume 1 From San Francisco to Teheran documents this trip.

It would be an amazing adventure today.

Roll back the clock 130 years, and you have history in the making.

Stevens is imbued with the prejudices and turn of phrase common to his era, as are we of ours.

What a feat, what a book.

Buy on Amazon USA


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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kyoto Exhibit Meiji Cloisonné The Golden Age of Cloisonné


A small gem of a museum sits in the shadow of Kiyomizu Temple in the hills of eastern Kyoto.

The Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum is close the world famous temple.

It houses works from the Imperial Household Agency that include makie, metal works, cloisonne ware, pottery and earthenware, sculpture, and engravings. In addition, the museum has inkstone boxes, wooden desks, incense burners, incense boxes, caskets, vases, inro pillboxes, netsuke, cigarette holders, tobacco pipes, pipe cases, portable brush-and-ink cases, tea bowls, sword fittings, sash bands, combs, and ornamental hairpins.

Most works date from the Meiji period, though some are from the Late Edo and Taisho periods.

The Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum is the first Japanese museum to hold in its permanent collection metalwork, cloisonne, makie lacquerware and Kyoto Satsuma Ware artworks of the late Edo and Meiji period.

Until February 19th, the Museum is hosting a wonderful exhibit: "Meiji Cloisonné The Golden Age of Cloisonné."

For those cycling, the museum is on Sannenzaka near Kiyomizu Temple. For those taking the bus, take number 206 or 100 bus from Kyoto Station and get off at Kiyomizu Gesha.


Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum
337-1 kiyomizu-sanchome Sanneizaka Kita-iru Kiyomizudera-monzen Higashiyama-ku Kyoto
10 a.m.-5 p.m. ¥500. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays; open holidays.

Tel: 075 532 4270


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