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Jiro Dreams of Sushi - the movie.

lost squirrel Dec 13, 2011 06:00 AM


What say everyone?

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  1. s
    Scharn RE: lost squirrel Dec 13, 2011 11:54 AM

    It makes me want to go. Japanese food writers too really love this guy.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Scharn
      Sam Salmon RE: Scharn Dec 13, 2011 10:01 PM

      Very cool-Thanks for posting!

      1. re: Scharn
        sushigirlie RE: Scharn Dec 13, 2011 11:10 PM

        FWIW, there are several reports on the internet that he's a total jerk. Read this post and the comments below. http://www.andyhayler.com/show_restau...

        1. re: sushigirlie
          Scharn RE: sushigirlie Dec 14, 2011 01:23 AM

          Jiro has this documentary shot by an American filmmaker which means that probably over months a foreign film crew followed his every move. Hard to believe anyone who had a problem with foreign patrons would allow this.

          That being said, if you are 85 yrs old, have 3 michelin stars and are declared a national treasure you probably earned the right to put pretentious patrons in their place, I certainly would.

          1. re: sushigirlie
            Scharn RE: sushigirlie Dec 14, 2011 05:23 AM

            PS: Here's a review by an American food blogger who stays in Tokyo:

            "Chef Ono’s dishes are simple and straight forward: the freshest fish imaginable, warm carefully selected and cooked rice, deft knife work, and a collection of wise and sarcastic jokes. He is very serious. But unlike Masa, he was faster to crack a smile. He couldn’t stop smirking at how I took a picture of each piece of sushi and even offered to pose; though, his sharp sushi knife was a forceful deterrent. He has a funny sense of humor and is full of clever quips; my limited Japanese only understood the surface."


            1. re: Scharn
              Dan Wodarcyk RE: Scharn Dec 14, 2011 07:30 AM

              Saw this a few weeks ago at the Napa Film Festival. It was beautifully filmed and inspires one to go there, or I guess as a foreigner to his son's place. As a sushi lover and having been to a few of the best in the US, it didn't teach me anything new about sushi, rice, types of fish, but it did offer more than a glimpse of his process. The scenes at Tsukiji were great.

              1. re: Dan Wodarcyk
                lost squirrel RE: Dan Wodarcyk Dec 15, 2011 05:53 PM

                Did you think the movie pushes people to visit his son more so than the old man?

                1. re: lost squirrel
                  Dan Wodarcyk RE: lost squirrel Dec 15, 2011 10:59 PM

                  Not at all. It wasn't until after I saw the film that I learned that non Japanese speakers are not welcome at his restaurant, if that's true.

                  1. re: Dan Wodarcyk
                    Ninisix RE: Dan Wodarcyk Dec 21, 2011 01:19 AM

                    Sukiyabashi Jiro is...an alternative sequence, just for you...30mn to feel alive !!! Actually, i am not joking, this is really how i feel in that tiny sushi place.. To keep up the atmosphere, the chef Ono Jiro will take no more that 5-6 clients at a time, so he can concentrate and interact approprialy. He may seem cold to people expecting the service to be as transparent as possible.
                    As for foreigners, i have seen many, as almost everytime, they didn`t spoke japanese.
                    So i suspect he oughts to limit a bit the numbers of foreigners per night... It would be easy to have the counter full of foreigners thanks to his fame, but well, i think nobody will be happy with it, right ?

            2. re: sushigirlie
              foodiemahoodie RE: sushigirlie May 12, 2012 01:43 PM

              Andy Hayler clearly had a nasty experience. But I'm always a little suspect of this. It's quite possible Jiro is the height of dickiness, but since I've joined CH (and experience on other internet lists/forums) I realize I've had stellar experience at restaurants where a select few have had (reportedly) terrible and rude experiences. And when you know restauranteurs - you get to hear their side of the story (which is hilarious stuff - especially when you get a few of these people around swapping horror stories). I've even heard a few nasty stories about some C-Hounders. In this case? I wonder if Hayler wasn't dressed right. Or was wearing tennis shoes, or something that just rubbed the old guy the wrong way. (Old people - men especially, can be rubbed wrong rather easily!). I've only had two genuinely bad experiences in my many decades of eating in restaurants. One was in Paris where a waiter brought a raspberry tort that had - no kidding - aphids on it. And when I pointed it out, he acted like I was complaining. He replaced the tart with one that had fewer aphids. He shrugged and took it away. And still charged me for the tart! (And I was wearing tennis shoes - but then this wasn't a formal restaurant). The second time was this year with the bald GM at The Little Door.

              1. re: foodiemahoodie
                Scharn RE: foodiemahoodie Jun 4, 2012 10:10 AM

                Rule of thumb: Never, ever, wear tennis shoes. Unless when playing tennis.

                1. re: Scharn
                  Chemicalkinetics RE: Scharn Jun 4, 2012 10:37 AM

                  .....I am wearing tennis shoes now at work. :P

          2. n
            nc213 RE: lost squirrel Dec 23, 2011 05:45 PM

            I had the chance to see this at a documentary festival last summer. It was a beautiful and fascinating film. Most chowhounds would love it. Lovely shots of the food, great storytelling.

            I also had a chance to see the El Bulli film, which I also adored, though I think it might be a little slow for those less completely fascinated by food and/or molecular gastronomy.

            1. Chemicalkinetics RE: lost squirrel Mar 7, 2012 07:39 PM

              I am kicking this post back up (I was going to make a new post, but..).

              This film will be released on March 9th, 2012 (very soon), and so far it has excellent reviews (100% fresh tomatoes) on rotten tomatoes:



              11 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                cowboyardee RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 7, 2012 10:49 PM

                Thanks chem.

                1. re: cowboyardee
                  Chemicalkinetics RE: cowboyardee Mar 8, 2012 07:39 AM

                  Thanks cowboy. I think I will try to watch it. Either hunt down a theater or rent it if I cannot watch it in a theater. I like these movies.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    cowboyardee RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 8, 2012 08:24 AM

                    I'd have a hard sell trying to get my wife to watch it. But I'm sure I can sneak off on my own and get my fix of cinematic sushi.

                    1. re: cowboyardee
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: cowboyardee Mar 8, 2012 08:30 AM


                      I watched a movie called King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters:


                      The premise is about two guys fighting to get the highest score of a video game, but the story is so much more. It transcends video games. It is about family, forgiveness, honesty, fairness, work ethnics....etc.

                      I expect the same for this movie. I really don't think it is only about sushi. It seems it is really about the relationship between the father and the son, and family reputation, customer respect...etc. I seriously doubt any movie solely about sushi will get such a high score for movie review.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        cowboyardee RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 8, 2012 08:55 AM

                        I've seen that movie. I love how they created a kind of epic Good vs Evil battle out of a bunch of 40 year old guys competing in arcade Donkey Kong.

                        I think I saw that the director of "Jiro..." also directed 'Man on a Wire' which is a pretty cool little documentary, especially considering they had no video footage of the main event of the film. That was about a Frenchman who tightrope-walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center as something between a prank and performance art.

                        1. re: cowboyardee
                          od_sf RE: cowboyardee Jun 14, 2012 12:20 PM

                          "Jiro Dreams Of Sushi" was directed by David Gelb; it is his first full-length documentary feature. "Man On Wire" was directed by James Marsh.

                          1. re: od_sf
                            cowboyardee RE: od_sf Jun 14, 2012 01:53 PM

                            It seems you're right. Don't remember where I got the misinformation. Thanks for the correction.

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      cowboyardee RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 29, 2012 02:54 AM

                      Finally saw the film. I liked it a lot. Rented it on netflix.

                      Just want to point out that the bonus features on the DVD might be of interest to chowhounds/foodies. A lot of the deleted scenes and extra material are more intensely focused on sushi-making than the rest of the movie - I'm guessing the director wanted to avoid letting the film get too in-depth about the food itself so as not to turn off potential viewers who aren't sushi nerds, but included some more of the sushi-focused footage as DVD extras for those of us who are.

                      1. re: cowboyardee
                        Chemicalkinetics RE: cowboyardee Jul 29, 2012 06:47 AM

                        I see, so it is on Netflix DVD now. I have the Netflix online, and it is not available at this moment. Good to know about the bonus features.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          huiray RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 29, 2012 07:01 AM

                          Apart from getting a physical copy of the CD you can also "rent" it to view or "buy" it to keep on your computer from Amazon. :-)

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    AmyH RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 6, 2013 01:19 PM

                    It may already be released. I saw it on Netflix months ago. Nice movie, but a bit slow moving. Interesting to learn about real sushi from a master, as opposed to the multitudes of sushi places in the US with poorly trained chefs, not to mention gas stations, supermarkets, hospital cafeterias, etc. I wonder what Jiro would think of those?

                    Oops, sorry, didn't read far enough down the thread.

                  3. f
                    fm1963 RE: lost squirrel Mar 11, 2012 03:58 PM

                    Fascinating documentary. It's playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinema in NYC.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: fm1963
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: fm1963 Mar 11, 2012 04:08 PM

                      I know. I searched for it, but this is too far for me. :( Maybe it will play in NJ or Philly soon. If not, I will have to rent it. :)

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        huiray RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 12, 2012 12:37 PM


                        1. re: huiray
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: huiray Mar 12, 2012 12:52 PM

                          Thanks. Looks like Philly will eventually play it. Good. :)

                    2. Chemicalkinetics RE: lost squirrel Mar 31, 2012 02:59 PM

                      I just finished watching the movie. Great film. I love the pace of the movie. Slow, beautiful, calming. Of course, as I have suspected that sushi is the topic, but not the focus. The focus is about dedication, expectation, hard working, modesty...etc. They could have easily talk about soba noodle or Chinese fried rice. The relationship between the father and the two sons is very nice.

                      I won't give away too much, but in the beginning of the film, you would wonder if the elder son Yoshikazu can live up to his father skill, then at the end you will find out more about Yoshikazu. I can be very sensitive when I watch movies, and I was very touched at a couple incidents in the film.

                      Definitely watching if you can find a theater nearby showing it, if not rent it.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        bulavinaka RE: Chemicalkinetics Apr 1, 2012 12:01 PM

                        You're teasing me too much with these lead-ins. :) Your being pulled into this movie is like the gravity from a black hole - it's pulling the rest of us hopelessly in...

                        1. re: bulavinaka
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: bulavinaka Apr 1, 2012 12:37 PM

                          :) You should at least rent it. I understand it can be a real pain to watch it in theater since it is only played in a limited number of theaters.

                          1. re: bulavinaka
                            huiray RE: bulavinaka Apr 1, 2012 01:24 PM

                            Speak for yourself. ;-) :-D

                            1. re: huiray
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: huiray Apr 1, 2012 01:29 PM

                              By the way, thanks for your above post, Huiray. I was giving up watching it in the theater because I couldn't find one remotely near me on the opening day/week, but your post showed that the movie is opening at different locations at different dates.

                              Well, it won't be bad to watch it at home, but it is nicer to watch it in the theater.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                huiray RE: Chemicalkinetics Apr 1, 2012 01:43 PM

                                Heh. You're welcome.

                                Well, it opens in Indy on 4/6/2012...a new addition to the roster, I think, as I did not notice it before when I first posted that link. Hmm.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            Dave MP RE: Chemicalkinetics Apr 1, 2012 10:39 PM

                            I just saw the film this weekend, and really enjoyed it - more than I thought I would. I'm not a huge fan of documentaries or of sushi, but the movie was really well done, not too long (80 mins I think), and made me really want to go to this restaurant in Tokyo. Like Chemicalkinetics says, the pace was good, lots of beautiful shots, and some interesting things to think about (to me, raised some good ethics questions about meaning/purpose of life). I thought some of the food sequences were a bit overdramatic (slow motion sushi action), but other sequences and sections were fascinating (the parts where they are at the fish market, for example). I definitely recommend it, and think it'll be good to rent eventually if it's not in a theater near you.

                            Dave MP

                            1. re: Dave MP
                              Chemicalkinetics RE: Dave MP Apr 1, 2012 10:55 PM

                              :) I laughed at several parts of the movies, like the part that Jiro talked about "when today parents say stupid things like this, no wonder the kids fail". He is very tough, and most today parents will likely to disagree with him, but Jiro does has a point.

                              There was a short scene which described the chef behind the Michelin reviews, and I love that part.

                              "it'll be good to rent eventually if it's not in a theater near you."

                              Absolutely agree with you.

                          3. h
                            HillJ RE: lost squirrel Apr 1, 2012 07:51 PM

                            just added the film to my Netflix que.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: HillJ
                              Rella RE: HillJ May 14, 2012 06:37 AM

                              Hope you get it - My que now is 111 films, but they hardly ever show up as available.

                              1. re: Rella
                                HillJ RE: Rella May 14, 2012 07:55 AM

                                Really, we've not had difficulty get any films once avail on DVD. Our que is long too; including films not yet avail.

                                1. re: HillJ
                                  Rella RE: HillJ May 14, 2012 08:38 AM

                                  We find that we've seen just about everything, so our que is short nowadays. No trouble either getting them once they are available.

                                  Just a comment: I'm wondering that "Jiro" is just another feel-good preachy movie; however, I shall watch, just as I did El Buli - so full of itself, but watchable for me as the two "helpers" were what I focused on and enjoyed.

                            2. PegS RE: lost squirrel Apr 2, 2012 02:55 PM

                              Just saw this movie this weekend and really enjoyed it. Two things struck me.

                              1) Given all the discussions on sushi etiquette, it was interesting watching the restaurant critic/writer use chopsticks on his sushi.

                              2) The Yoshikazu thing that Chemicalkinetics refers to in his post.

                              1. jpr54_1 RE: lost squirrel Apr 3, 2012 02:58 PM

                                I saw the film today in NYC

                                It deserved all the good publicity.

                                1. g
                                  GH1618 RE: lost squirrel May 12, 2012 02:22 PM

                                  I liked the film, for its inside view of the sushi business — the kitchen, the markets, and such — but nothing about it made me wish I could eat there. It seemed cold and impersonal, whereas a good sushi experience is more than the food, it's the interaction between the customer and sushi man.

                                  The diners pictured were not his usual customers, however, but were selected for the film. It might play out differently for his regulars.

                                  I avoid elitist restaurants of all kinds, anyway. There is plenty of good sushi to be had without needing a reservation, without submitting to rude treatment, and without paying so much.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: GH1618
                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: GH1618 May 12, 2012 07:05 PM

                                    It did not make me want to eat there as well, but I thought it has some good life lessons in it. As I have told cowboyardee, one of my most favor films is "The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarter"


                                    The film, in no way, makes me want to play the game Donkey Kong, but it has a lot of deep and insight views about human/people.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      Dan Wodarcyk RE: Chemicalkinetics Aug 5, 2012 11:05 PM

                                      I have to agree with GH, somewhat, but I didn't expect "life lessons" with the film, am probably in the minority. Unlike GH, I didn't think the film offered enough of an inside view of the business (business meaning the making of sushi.) If I'm ever in Tokyo of course I will go, but I've had the experience of being at some Michelin star sushi places in the US, but even better, some not on the radar, to understand the interaction between customer and chef. The demanding nature of Jiro certainly came out, but I didn't see a huge father/son struggle and was left wanting more.

                                      1. re: Dan Wodarcyk
                                        huiray RE: Dan Wodarcyk Aug 5, 2012 11:50 PM

                                        See this post in this thread about the DVD of the movie: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8228...

                                        1. re: Dan Wodarcyk
                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: Dan Wodarcyk Aug 6, 2012 07:13 AM

                                          <I didn't think the film offered enough of an inside view of the business (business meaning the making of sushi.) >

                                          I have to agree with it.

                                          <but I didn't see a huge father/son struggle >

                                          I also agree with it. I don't see a hudge struggle, but there is certainly a subtle and real interaction. The demand and the expectation...etc.

                                    2. b
                                      bulavinaka RE: lost squirrel May 12, 2012 09:44 PM

                                      Still want to see this movie, but in the mean time, KCRW's "Good Food" spent a fair amount of time today on the subject of sushi, and part of this was speaking with this documentary's director:


                                      The director's comments may give some insight into Jiro's mindset. Some may consider Jiro to be a jerk, but knowing this generation in Japan (my father is), this perceived behavior belies what manifests it.

                                      1. Will Owen RE: lost squirrel May 18, 2012 04:42 PM

                                        We saw this in a theater a couple of weeks ago. Mesmerizingly beautiful; though it really could have stood some sharper editing, if I'd directed the thing myself cutting anything out really would be like killing your children. I loved the line about how it's the only Michelin 3-star restaurant on earth with only ten seats and no on-premises restroom! It's probably also the only one that's in a subway station … but that solves the restroom problem.

                                        I'm sure a lot of our reaction to the man's character and demeanor has to do with cultural differences, and Jiro's background as well. He is as demanding of his sons as he is of himself as much out of respect and concern for them as anything else. Neither he nor they consider it odd or unfair that he should make his way of life imperative and inevitable for them; it is what it is, and they will prosper as he has.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: Will Owen
                                          trolley RE: Will Owen Mar 6, 2013 01:46 PM

                                          i was going to say most japanese people in the retail sector are not chatty cathy's. in fact, if you go to a dept. store or a store the merchant will address you with a salutation, can i help you, take your order and thank you have a nice day. there is no, how's it going? where are you from? what's new in your life? love your dress! kind of conversations. it's not in the place of the merchant to ask about these things to a customer. (think opposite of Trader Joe's) there's a reserved politeness which Americans often think is rude. this is not to say that he's probably slightly on the jerky side. so combined with jerky and his japanese ways he's probably a bit on the cold side. i know i've had disagreements with some people on the japan board about this but generally japanese people will politely smile in your face while stabbing you in the back if they don't like you. (i'm japanese, born and grew up there) it's one thing if you live there. you'll get to know the market people and they'll warm up and you'll have more personal conversations eventually. i can see that he'd want only japanese speaking people in his restaurant. i saw his movie and he seems very particular.

                                          1. re: trolley
                                            LotusRapper RE: trolley Mar 6, 2013 03:42 PM

                                            I must say this movie is very well done on many levels that touches on different areas: work ethics/values, family values, personal values, relationships, cultural perspectives, loyalty, and even environmental/ecological awareness and conservation. Not to mention great cello pieces !

                                            I totally understand (as an Asia-born Asian who grew up in Canada) that Jiro et al.'s demeanor and habit may come across being "cold" or "rude" to a N. American or even European customer un-familiar with Japanese/Korean/Chinese customs and habits. Jiro appears to have a pretty somber expression and that itself was clearly illustrated when they talked about how many local customers felt nervous (and even Yamamato-san himself) eating in front of Jiro. And that tied to Takashi's humorous comment how his own restaurant is more casual and relaxed (yet "lower standard" than Jiro's own) hence he charges less $ ;-P So you're absolutely right, the place ain't a Trader Joe's, and non-Japanese nationals need to be sensitive and aware of local customs and values when traveling and interacting with elements of the Japanese (and any) culture.

                                            1. re: LotusRapper
                                              Silverjay RE: LotusRapper Mar 6, 2013 04:12 PM

                                              Even among Japanese, he has a reputation as being a curmudgeon. Despite his national treasure status and international acclaim, his restaurant ranks in the mid-200's of sushi shops in Tokyo on Tabelog, the Japanese user-driven restaurant review site that factors in service and atmosphere, as well as food and cost performance, into its' rankings.

                                              1. re: Silverjay
                                                LotusRapper RE: Silverjay Mar 6, 2013 04:47 PM

                                                Absolutely. Considering he charges ¥30,000¥ set base price PP (US$320) for dinner, that's not gonna bode well for the have-been patrons who expected quantity over quality, or a menu repertoire that is more than his sushi-only selection. Unless a patron can cast aside pre-conceptions and truly appreciate the food and experience for what it is, the restaurant is not a poster child of "value" by most measures. That's one hell of an expensive omikase:


                                                The DVD's special features section, deleted scenes provide other glimpses into the operation and people not shown in the regular 81 minutes main segment.

                                                1. re: LotusRapper
                                                  Silverjay RE: LotusRapper Mar 6, 2013 05:45 PM

                                                  You misunderstand. The knock on him, even among Japanese, is that he's not pleasant and that he rushes customers. I just listed cost performance to fully explain the parameters of Tabelog's ratings. All the other shops that are in that same stratosphere of pricing are in the top 50 or so. Probably in the top 25. His disciple, Mizutani, has been in the top 10 for years. At this level, diners are very savvy about cost performance. It's not a situation where have-beens with pre-conceptions are expecting quantity over quality and rated him low...Also, the word is "omakase".

                                                  1. re: Silverjay
                                                    trolley RE: Silverjay Mar 6, 2013 05:53 PM

                                                    yeah i asked my aunt about the restaurant and she said yes, it's famous but way overpriced. and she mentioned she heard the itamae was not very nice. a jerk is a jerk whether you're in tokyo, istanbul, or san francisco aside from cultural differences :)

                                                    1. re: trolley
                                                      Silverjay RE: trolley Mar 7, 2013 04:31 AM

                                                      I suggested going there years ago with a Japanese friend and he was like "nah, we wouldn't have any fun."..I met the guy who dined with Bourdain when they visited for No Reservations. He said Ono-san was alright that day. I rather enjoyed my meal at Mizutani. He wasn't a ball of laughs, but cracked some jokes and the meal was comfortably paced and of course amazing.

                                        2. Caroline1 RE: lost squirrel Jun 4, 2012 04:56 PM

                                          Is it my imagination or does Ono Jiro look rather like ET? I swear there's a resemblance! '-)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                            LotusRapper RE: Caroline1 Mar 5, 2013 03:35 PM

                                            Just watched it as a rental (I know, a year after it came out).

                                            Very cool.

                                            Yes I thought the same thing (Jiro resembling ET). Or it is Yoda ? I can see Jiro disciplining his staff: "Do. Or do not. There is no try !" ;-)

                                          2. n
                                            Nanzi RE: lost squirrel Mar 6, 2013 07:37 AM

                                            I watched this 2 weeks ago and loved it. Yes, it's low key, but it will leave you wanting to go out for sushi, immediately.

                                            We all wondered what the sauce/oil? was that he brushed on the sushi just before he served it. Have never seen it done here on the east coast.

                                            Very cool movie, Jiro's devotion to good sushi is admirable.

                                            I came back to Edit after reading the articles about Jiro and his rudeness, I would not dine there even if for free. How arrogant he is. What a shame.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Nanzi
                                              LotusRapper RE: Nanzi Mar 6, 2013 09:53 AM

                                              The sauce they brush onto each piece of nigiri is called "nikiri", best explained here:


                                              In the movie DVD under special features -> deleted scenes, there is a section about the "mystery sauce". Yoshikazu explains it's a reduction of soy and sake.

                                              1. re: Nanzi
                                                Lau RE: Nanzi Mar 6, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                re: the sauce / nikiri - any of the top places in the US do this. Every top place in NY does this.

                                                I was just in Tokyo and ate at one very top restaurant (3 michelin star) and one very good one (i think like 1 michelin star).

                                                Experience: The actual experience here vs Japan at a top place is fairly similar. Although to be fair i can't speak japanese, so it maybe different if you can.

                                                Food: The quality of ingredients was better there (as to be expected) particularly around shellfish. I thought their shellfish absolutely blew any place in NY out of the water by a mile. The fish was very good and better than the top places in NY although I would say that the delta wasn't quite as big although definitely still noticeable.

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