View Full Version : Discussion Japanese Folktales Thread
April 25, 2007, 01:24 PM
And yet another spin-off thread, lol. This time from the Mythologies thread (http://www.mangahelpers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12048).
This is where we can discuss the Japanese mythos and folk tales. :dance
Naruto readers especially should be interested, since Naruto is based on a lot of this. For example, the Bijuu, as well as the Three Sennin, are all taken from Japanese myths.
That's why I decided to make a separate thread for this purpose, because I can see the Mythologies thread being totally dominated by Japanese Mythology discussion.
So fire away. Interested in Japanese myths? Which ones? Do you know a lot? Can you tell us a little? ;D
P.S. Don't forget to visit our Mythologies thread if you're interested in other myths! ^^
Ichimaru Gin n Tonic
April 25, 2007, 02:12 PM
Well, my favorite Japanese folktales are Momotaro and the Princess Kaguya story. They both was found in a plant (peach and bamboo). But after reading those story, it actually makes me think: "Does Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster adapted with the 'baby from outerspace in a space ship' from those stories?"
April 25, 2007, 04:16 PM
I heard about that as part of the Inu Yasha manga, they had a chapter about the Peach Boy, lol.
Also, wasn't it part of an ES21 sidestory? xD
April 27, 2007, 03:43 AM
folklore aye? hmmmm
how can we forget the humple kappa, it's probably one of the most over used :XD
April 27, 2007, 09:39 PM
When it comes to Japanese folklore, you can't help but thinking about Momotaro. But I especially like the mystery themed ones, like Yotsuya Kaidan or any stories involving mythical creatures and ghosts. It's cool.
Talking about a connection with anime/manga, especially Naruto, I read a about a folklore about Jiraiya (Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari) once, which includes the character Tsunade and Orochimaru.
May 03, 2007, 09:28 AM
well i'm interested in the myths surrounding the japanese imperial crown jewels...i mean they're sooo "mystical" :D
there are many historical references to these, and their current locations are known but nobody has ever seen them publicly.
Imperial Regalia of Japan (三種の神器, Sanshu no Jingi? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Japanese)), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures, consist of the sword (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword), Kusanagi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kusanagi) (草薙劍) (or possibly a replica of the original), the jewel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemstone) or necklace of jewels, Yasakani no magatama (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magatama#Yasakani_no_Magatama) (八尺瓊曲玉), and the mirror (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror) Yata no kagami (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yata_no_kagami) (八咫鏡). Also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the regalia represent the three primary virtues (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtues): valor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valor) (the sword), wisdom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom) (the mirror), and benevolence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benevolence) (the jewel). These may be connected with Buddhist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist) thought.
Due to the legendary status of these items, their locations are not confirmed, but it is commonly thought that the sword is located at Atsuta Shrine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atsuta_Shrine) in Nagoya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagoya), the mirror is located in the Grand Shrine of Ise (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Shrine_of_Ise) in Mie prefecture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mie_prefecture), and the jewel is located at Kokyo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kokyo) (the Imperial Palace) in Tokyo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo). One or more of these may not be the originals. The Yata no kagami (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yata_no_kagami) is also said to be in the Kashikodokoro, one of the Three Palace Sanctuaries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Palace_Sanctuaries).
Since 690 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/690), the presentation of these items to the Emperor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_of_Japan) by the priests (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priests) at the shrine are a central part of the imperial enthronement ceremony (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation). This ceremony is not public, and these items are by tradition only seen by the emperor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor) and certain priests. Because of this, no known photographs or drawings exist.
According to legend, these artifacts were brought by Ninigi-no-Mikoto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninigi-no-Mikoto), legendary ancestor of the Japanese imperial line (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_House_of_Japan), when his grandmother, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaterasu), sent him to pacify Japan. The origin of the items remain a question today. There is speculation that they are from Bronze Age (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Age) China (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China) or Korea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea), which were among the first countries to reach Japan, where bronze (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze) was still unknown, near the threshold from prehistory to history. Traditionally, they were a symbol of the emperor's divinity as a descendant of Amaterasu, from which he derived legitimacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitimacy) as paramount ruler of Japan.
According to legend, when Amaterasu hid in a cave from her brother Susanoo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susanoo), thus plunging the world in darkness, the goddess Ama-no-Uzume (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ama-no-Uzume) hung the mirror and jewels outside the cave and lured her out of the cave, at which point she saw her own reflection and was startled enough that the gods could pull her out of the cave. Susanoo later presented in apology to Amaterasu the sword, Kusanagi, which he had obtained from the body of an eight-headed serpent, Orochi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamata_no_Orochi).
In the anime series YuYu Hakusho (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YuYu_Hakusho), the part of the first story arc (the "Spirit Detective Saga") has Yusuke solving a case involving three stolen artifacts: a sword, a mirror, and a magical orb. This culture reference is the first of many in the Yu Yu Hakusho series. However, at least in this case the artifacts are given a reverse nature: the items in Japanese culture are associated with good virtues but in the series they are known as "Artifacts of Darkness".
In the anime/manga Naruto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto), the villain Orochimaru (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orochimaru) occasionally uses the Sword of Kusanagi which he regurgitates from his own stomach, a reference to the Yamata-no-Orochi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamata-no-Orochi) and the Legend of the Great Jiraiya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiraiya) where he gets his name. This was also a reference to the fact that according to legend the sword was inside of Orochi's stomach.
maybe you can also make a thread focusing on japanese culture and society since there are many references in manga and anime that we are not aware of, where those living in japan can answer some of these. e.g. why are there always scenes with hot springs? and trivias on the japanese secondary level educational system that is implied in some manga/anime series.... :D
September 08, 2007, 04:31 PM
Amaterasu the Sun Goddess, been playing Okami lately
January 31, 2011, 06:59 PM
Reviving this thread!! :) And I’m doing it with a very interesting folktale:
Long, long ago, in what is now Nagano, there lived a lazy man called Monogusa (do-nothing) Taro. He lived in a hut without walls, as they would be too much trouble to build, and he spent his days and nights looking idly at the sky, composing poems and waiting for a kind-hearted person to bring him a bite to eat.
One day a farmer brought Monogusa Taro five pieces of rice-cake. He ate four of them at once, but the fifth cake dropped and rolled out onto the road. Taro was too lazy to go get it himself. He lay there, shooing away the dogs and birds that came to nibble the cake, waiting for someone to pass by and pick up the last cake for him. At last, some days later, the governor of the district himself came riding by.
Taro cried out to the nobleman: "Sir, I beg you. Please bring me that rice-cake in the road!" The governor stopped, amazed that this lazy beggar dared call out to him in this way.
"So you are the famous Monogusa Taro. How is it that you make your living?" questioned the governor.
Taro answered him honestly: "Well, I wait here in my hut for someone to bring me some food."
"Would you like to become a farmer and grow your own food? I will give you some land," offered the governor.
"No, thank you. I don't care to be a farmer."
"How about a shop of some sort? I will give you a store and the goods to sell."
"No," replied Taro, "I don't fancy that sort of work either."
The governor was most intrigued by Monogusa Taro. Here was a lowly, lazy beggar, speaking boldly to the ruler of the entire district. The governor saw something noble in Taro's clear eyes. He made a decree: "From this day forth, let Monogusa Taro be fed rice and sake every day. Those who disobey me in this wish will earn my displeasure." This order amazed the local farmers, but the governor's wish was law, and they brought Taro his rice and sake every day from that day on. He lived his life as usual, gazing idly at the sky and composing his poems.
Some years went by, and the time came for the lord of Shinano to go to the capital, Kyoto. Each village had to send one man as a servant to the lord during his journey. The farmers, busy with their fieldwork, asked Taro to go.
"Taro, will you go to the capital? Our village must send a man, and we are too busy with our work." But Taro, of course, wanted nothing more than to lie in his hut and compose his poems.
The farmers thought hard about how they could convince him to go. At last, one of them spoke: "You know, Taro, the capital is filled with beautiful women. Wouldn't you like to go and see them?" At this, Taro sat up to listen.
"In the capital," the farmer continued, "everyone writes poem after poem. A skilled poet is respected and honored, especially by the women there." Taro was on his feet now at what he was hearing.
"But I guess you had better stay here in your hut after all. You are much too lazy to go all the way to Kyoto, no matter how beautiful the women are and how much they would love to hear your poetry." But by this time, Taro had made up his mind to accompany the lord of Shinano to the capital.
As it turned out, Kyoto was everything the farmers had said it would be. The streets were filled with beautiful women and the sounds of poetry. Taro felt as though he had awoken from his old, lazy life into a new one, and he applied himself diligently to his duties. The lord of Shinano was most pleased with his hard work and his fine poems.
But the lord's stay in Kyoto drew to a close, and Taro had yet to meet a woman who would become his wife. Troubled by this, he asked his lord what to do. The lord laughed and told him: "Go to Kiyomizu temple. There are plenty of fine women who visit that temple, and you are sure to meet one right for you."
Off Taro went to the temple. He stood before the gates from dawn to dusk, but his rugged country face and rough clothes frightened people away from him. At last, as dusk approached, he made his way up to one woman coming late to the temple. As you can imagine, she almost fainted with fright when he grabbed her and asked her to be his wife!
She regained her senses, however, and decided to get rid of this beggar with a poem: "If you really care for me, ask your way to my home, with a gate covered in purple orange blossoms." Her elegant poem startled Taro, and he let her go. But he understood poetry better than she expected, and the next day he began his search for her home.
After seven days of searching, he found a house that matched her poetic description. How great was her surprise when she saw Taro standing in her garden! She said to herself: "It seems he knows more of poetry than I believed he could. And he has shown such devotion in searching for me!" And she, too, noticed the clear nobility in his eyes. She invited him in, bathed him and clothed him in fine robes, and found him to be the most handsome man she had ever seen. They were married, and Taro began to accompany her to court.
The imperial court was a place of great poetry. One day, the emperor asked Taro to compose a verse. Taro, hearing a warbler singing in a garden tree, spoke: "Hearing the warbler's liquid song, I wonder if her roof of blossom has holes to let the spring rain come through to wet her feathers." This fine poem pleased the emperor, who decided to look into Taro's lineage. The lord of Shinano investigated and found that Taro was, in fact, the lost child of a nobleman, and indeed was related to the emperor himself.
At this news, the emperor raised Taro to a high rank in the court and gave him the provinces of Shinano and Kai (now Nagano and Yamanashi) as his realm. With his wife, he returned to his home country. Out of gratitude to those who were kind to him when he was a beggar, he promoted the governor of his old district and gave land to all the farmers of his old village. In his new mansion, he lived happily with his wife for the rest of his long life.
Let’s talk and discuss about this ^ folktale! :) Or if you don’t want to talk or comment about it then please feel more than welcome to post another folktale. ^_^
Let’s revive this thread!
February 03, 2011, 03:09 AM
Hmm, I'm not really sure how I feel about this folktale. I always thought folktales ought to teach something, a value, an important idea... But this doesn't at all. It honors someone for bumming around waiting for people to bring him food, only thinking of doing work (going to Kyoto) when he can meet girls... :s
The only good thing about this Tarou seems to be that he is honest and doesn't bootlick the governor, and he's a good poet.
February 04, 2011, 06:46 AM
I love japanese folktales which the main characters are animals. :amuse
Here's a simple story where it teaches that a good person receives a reward for his kindness but sometimes when a person decides that he wants some more than what blessing/gift he had (greediness) faces a consequence.
A Broken Promise
Long, long ago, some children were playing at a seaside when they found a turtle. They began to bully the turtle. After a while, a young man came and said to them, "Stop it!" The children went away then.
"I really appreciate your kindness. I really would like to invite you to a wonderful palace now," the turtle said. As soon as the young man got on the back of the turtle, he was taken to a secret palace in the sea. When he arrived at the palace, he was very surprised and said to the turtle, "What a nice place!"
The palace was very beautiful, and the king of the turtles gave a feast for him and he met many people. He had never seen such a good feast. He received a warm welcome there, and he was very satisfied with everything. He thought there was no other place nicer than that one. He said to the turtle, "Thank you, I am glad to have met you."
When he left, the turtle said, "I am going to give you two boxes, but you can only open one of the boxes. You must not open both. Don't forget!"
"All right. I will open only one." he promised. A large crowd of people said goodbye to him, and he went back to his land. After he got home, he opened the bigger of the two boxes. To his amazement, there was a great deal of gold in the box.
"Heavens!" he said loudly. He was rich now. He thought, "The other one must also be full of money." He could not stand not opening the box, so he broke his promise and opened it.
As soon as he opened the box, he became an old man. His hair turned white and his face was full of wrinkles. His looked like an old man over eighty years old. It all happened in a moment. After that he regretted what he did. "Just because I broke the promise..." he said, but it was too late.
Here's another one:
The Two Frogs
Once upon a time in the country of Japan there lived two frogs, one of whom made his home in a ditch near the town of Osaka, on the sea coast, while the other dwelt in a clear little stream which ran through the city of Kioto. At such a great distance apart, they had never even heard of each other; but, funnily enough, the idea came into both their heads at once that they should like to see a little of the world, and the frog who lived at Kioto wanted to visit Osaka, and the frog who lived at Osaka wished to go to Kioto, where the great Mikado had his palace.
So one fine morning in the spring they both set out along the road that led from Kioto to Osaka, one from one end and the other from the other. The journey was more tiring than they expected, for they did not know much about travelling, and half way between the two towns there arose a mountain which had to be climbed. It took them a long time and a great many hops to reach the top, but there they were at last, and what was the surprise of each to see another frog before him! They looked at each other for a moment without speaking, and then fell into conversation, explaining the cause of their meeting so far from their homes. It was delightful to find that they both felt the same wish--to learn a little more of their native country--and as there was no sort of hurry they stretched themselves out in a cool, damp place, and agreed that they would have a good rest before they parted to go their ways.
'What a pity we are not bigger,' said the Osaka frog; 'for then we could see both towns from here, and tell if it is worth our while going on.'
'Oh, that is easily managed,' returned the Kioto frog. 'We have only got to stand up on our hind legs, and hold on to each other, and then we can each look at the town he is travelling to.'
This idea pleased the Osaka frog so much that he at once jumped up and put his front paws on the shoulders of his friend, who had risen also. There they both stood, stretching themselves as high as they could, and holding each other tightly, so that they might not fall down. The Kioto frog turned his nose towards Osaka, and the Osaka frog turned his nose towards Kioto; but the foolish things forgot that when they stood up their great eyes lay in the backs of their heads, and that though their noses might point to the places to which they wanted to go their eyes beheld the places from which they had come.
'Dear me!' cried the Osaka frog, 'Kioto is exactly like Osaka. It is certainly not worth such a long journey. I shall go home!'
'If I had had any idea that Osaka was only a copy of Kioto I should never have travelled all this way,' exclaimed the frog from Kioto, and as he spoke he took his hands from his friend's shoulders, and they both fell down on the grass. Then they took a polite farewell of each other, and set off for home again, and to the end of their lives they believed that Osaka and Kioto, which are as different to look at as two towns can be, were as like as two peas.
Note: Osaka and Kyoto are like apples and oranges: these two cities are located not so very far from each other, but they are very different cities, maybe like Miami and New York. The frogs thought that they saw another place when they used a silly method but instead saw their own hometown because they forgot their eyes and nose are on top of their head (http://animal.discovery.com/tv/vanishing-frogs/anatomy/frog-eyes.html), anatomically. :)
February 21, 2011, 10:55 PM
I have a book on Japanese folklore, and I'm hoping to translate popular and well-known ones here. :)
Here's a short tale.[hr]
Mr. Carrot, Mr. Gobou, and Mr. Daikon
Mr. Carrot, Mr. Gobou and Mr. Daikon were preparing a bath.
Fluffy puffs of steam appeared and the bath was ready.
"I'll be first."
Mr. Carrot jumped in. It was very, very hot and he couldn't handle it. Even so Mr. Carrot tried his best and counted the numbers.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... It's no use!!"
Mr. Carrot turned red and jumped out.
Mr. Gobou watched and slowly entered the bath. "Hot!" he cried and jumped out. He ran away still covered in dirt.
"Add water in it if it's hot."
Mr. Daikon poured water into the steaming water and went in the bath. He slowly submerged himself in the bath and cleaned himself carefully.
"Ah, that felt nice."
After getting out of the bath, Mr. Daikon's body became white.
This is why a carrots is red, gobou is dirty and daikon is white.
February 22, 2011, 08:58 AM
That's kinda cute :XD Never knew of this story before.
... But once again, there is no moral to the story. I still find that weird about these tales. So the whole point is to explain why these veggies are the colors they are? :oh That's like a way to fool kids and to answer hard-to-explain questions without having to do the explanation. I mean, kids wouldn't understand anything about beta carotene giving the orange color. Or for that matter, how babies are made therefore the story about storks :p
February 22, 2011, 09:30 AM
To be honest, most fairy tales don't have a moral to the story, regardless of culture. Usually folktales are allegorical to either a political event, or are just amusing stories. Aesop's Fables, on the other hand, do have a moral at the end of each story, but I don't think that there is a Japanese version of it.
I really like the story of the carrot, the gobou, and the daikon. It makes sense to me!
February 22, 2011, 12:22 PM
Well, the Japanese folktales I am more familiar with actually kinda do... Which is why I was a little surprised that the ones I'm reading here don't :XD One of the ones I knew before this thread is this one:
Tsuru no Ongaeshi
Long, long ago in a far off land there lived a young man. One day, while working on his farm, a brilliant white crane came swooping down and crashed to the ground at his feet. The man noticed an arrow pierced through one of its wings. Taking pity on the crane, he pulled out the arrow and cleaned the wound. Thanks to his care the bird was soon able to fly again. The young man sent the crane back to the sky, saying, "Be careful to avoid hunters." The crane circled three times over his head, let out a cry as if in thanks, and then flew away.
As the day grew dark the young man made his way home. When he arrived, he was surprised by the sight of a beautiful woman whom he had never seen before standing at the doorway. "Welcome home. I am your wife," said the woman. The young man was surprised and said, "I am very poor, and cannot support you." The woman answered, pointing to a small sack, "Don't worry, I have plenty of rice," and began preparing dinner. The young man was puzzled, but the two began a happy life together. And the rice sack, mysteriously, remained full always.
One day the wife asked the young man to build her a weaving room. When it was completed, she said, "You must promise never to peek inside." With that, she shut herself up in the room. The young man waited patiently for her to come out. Finally, after seven days, the sound of the loom stopped and his wife, who had become very thin, stepped out of the room holding the most beautiful cloth he had ever seen. "Take this cloth to the marketplace and it will sell for a high price," said the wife. The next day the young man brought it to town and, just as she said, it sold for many coins. Happy, he returned home.
The wife then returned to the room and resumed weaving. Curiosity began to overtake the man, who wondered, "How can she weave such beautiful cloth with no thread?" Soon he could stand it no longer and, desperate to know his wife's secret, peeked into the room. To his great shock, his wife was gone. Instead, a crane sat intently at the loom weaving a cloth, plucking out its own feathers for thread.
The bird then noticed the young man peeking in and said, "I am the crane that you saved. I wanted to repay you so I became your wife, but now that you have seen my true form I can stay here no longer." Then, handing the man the finished cloth, it said, "I leave you this to remember me by." The crane then abruptly flew off into the sky and disappeared forever.
The moral for this one is pretty obvious - help people, and they will return the favor. And also, keep your promises/don't be too nosy about other's secrets.
February 22, 2011, 10:45 PM
The folk tale I translated is light-hearted and simple; it only covered two pages in the book. I doubt anyone back then would know why a carrot is a certain colour so they anthropomorphized the vegetables to give the best explanation they could. :amuse
It's sort of like how mythologies around the world give reasons why nature works the way it does. Eg. Why do we have winter? In Greek mythology it's because Persephone is in the Underworld with Hades, and Demeter (her mother and goddess of harvest), is mourning.
Back on-topic: Tsuru no ongaeshi is one of my favourite tales. :)
May 28, 2011, 08:21 PM
Ever wonder how the rabbit got up into the moon? Wonder no more! :)
The Rabbit in the Moon
Once the Old-Man-of-the-Moon looked down into a big forest on the earth. He saw a rabbit and a monkey and a fox all living there together in the forest as very good friends.
"Now, I wonder which of them is the kindest," he said to himself. "I think I'll go down and see."
So the old man changed himself into a beggar and came down from the moon to the forest where the three animals were.
"Please help me," he said to them. "I'm very hungry."
"Oh! What a poor old beggar!" they said, and then they went hurrying off to find some food for the beggar.
The monkey brought a lot of fruit. And the fox caught a big fish. But the rabbit couldn't find anything at all to bring.
"Oh my! oh my! what shall I do?" the rabbit cried. But just then he got an idea.
"Please, Mr. Monkey," the rabbit said, "you gather some firewood for me. And you, Mr. Fox, please make a big fire with the wood."
They did as the rabbit asked, and when the fire was burning very brightly, the rabbit said to the beggar: "I don't have anything to give you. So I'll put myself in this fire, and then when I'm cooked you can eat me."
The rabbit was about to jump into the fire and cook himself. But just then the beggar suddenly changed himself back into the Old-Man-of-the-Moon.
"You are very kind, Mr. Rabbit," the Old Man said. "But you should never do anything to harm yourself. Since you are the kindest, of all, I'll take you home to live with me."
Then the Old-Man-of-the-Moon took the rabbit in his arms and carried him up to the moon. Just look and see! If you look carefully at the moon when it is shining brightly, you can still see the rabbit thee where the Old Man put him so very long ago.
I really liked the story above, the rabbit was so kind. http://smileys.on-my-web.com/repository/Animals/bunny-04.gif :wtf
May 28, 2011, 10:08 PM
The legend of rabbits being on the moon has become so prevalent in Japanese society that there are even confectionaries that have it as a motif! Sailor Moon's everyday name is Usagi, and obviously I don't need to explain where that name came from. ;)
June 09, 2011, 08:15 PM
I can't seem to find Japanese mythology in Japanese on the search engines with my level of Japanese. I'm primarily trying to find Japanese folklore/mythology (ranging from short Greek myths to works like The Iliad and The Aeneid) because of their prevalence in Japanese culture.
In other words, can someone find me reliable sources for Japanese mythology/folklore, please? Thanks before in after.:amuse
June 09, 2011, 10:02 PM
The easiest is probably Wikipedia. Here (http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%AA%AC%E8%A9%B1) is an article on folklore, from which you can get the names of some of the famous Japanese folk heros like Momotarou (桃太郎), Kintarou (金太郎), Issun-boushi (一寸法師) and more. You can probably get enough info by reading their individual wiki pages, or by copying and pasting their names and running a Google search.
Hope that helps :)
January 30, 2012, 11:00 PM
There are a few good sources on Google Books.
'Folktales from the Japanese countryside' looks like a good one. Or just watch Mushi-shi instead. ;)
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