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  • DARUMA / Dharma

    DARUMA is a Japanese traditional doll and always used as a lucky charm. People used to believe that DARUMA brings  good luck and wealth. Nowadays people believe that DARUMA can also make other dreams come true such as;History of DARUMADARUMA is modeled after a Buddhist monk and a founder of Zen Buddhism called Bodhidharma who lived during the 5th or 6th century. He was born in India and moved to China to spread the Zen Sect.  The legend said that Bodhidharma had a very strong faith in his religion. He lost his limbs  while he mediated deeply and kept sitting in a correct posture to enter a spiritual state of nothingness for nine years.  In the Edo period around 17th to 19th century, the story about Bodhidharma was introduced in Japan and combined with a traditional Japanese talisman called OKIAGARI KOBOSHI which they newly produced the current DARUMA doll. OKIAGARI KOBOSHI is a roly poly toy that always comes back to an upright position when pushed and knocked over. It literally means “If you get knocked down seven times, you will get up eight times anyhow.” and also means that “A man’s walking is a succession of falls.”  DARUMA’s Red ColorThere are some color variations of DARUMA,  the most popular color  red. It is said that Bodhidharma worn a red colored special cloth. Also, the color red represents the sun, fire, blood and life. People believed that red color has a power to protect them from bad luck and disease, that is the reason why the color is used for some sacred sites and buildings in Japan such as TORII gate (a gateway of a shrine).The fatal disease of small pox was spreading like a plague in the Edo period. Smallpox was called HOSO at that time and people believed the disease was brought by the God of HOSO. It was said that the God with evil spirits hates the red color, therefore people used to put red clothes on the patients and paint the toys in red to protect their children. Daruma in red was one of the popular charms for those suffered from HOSO.How to make a wish on DARUMA DARUMA does not have black eyes painted on the face. They are intentionally left blank, so that the person who owns it can draw them in. First the owner puts in its right eye which we call KAIGEN, means literally Opening-Eye, and makes a wish. Secondly the person needs to work for it. When the dream is achieved, the other eye is painted with gratitude.There were many people who lost their eyesight when they got smallpox, so DARUMA with beautiful eyes drawn was very popular and fetched a high price. On the other hand, DARUMA with their eyes not-well drawn were unsold and leftover. The sellers came up with selling DARUMA with their eyes left blank, asking buyers to paint the eyes themselves.Today’s DARUMATime went by, DARUMA became to be a typical talisman to make your dreams come true. You might have seen on television that politicians were drawing an eye after they was elected.Traditionally it is said that the power of DARUMA lasts for one year only. If your wish did not come true within one year, you would need to take the DARUMA to shrines or temples for a burning ceremony.Most common color red represents good luck and good fortune. There are other colors such as Yellow, Purple, Gold, White, Blue, Black and each color has its own meanings depending on the place you purchase. Therefore, find the one to meet your wishes when you get it.Would you like to try and draw eyes for your wish??

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  • OHIGAN

    The coming 20th of March is a Vernal Equinox Day called SHUNBUN NO HI. Japan calls this special week surrounding the Spring Equinox day OHIGAN. The Autumn Equinox Day in September is called SHUBUN NO HI and also called the special week OHIGAN. These equinox days are public holidays since 1948.It is believed that people taking care of family graves during this period will be promised to go to paradise, therefore it is a common family event for Japanese to visit their family graves, pay respect and commemorate their death in the OHIGAN week.In Buddhism, HIGAN implies enlightenment and means the other side of the river. The river divides the land of the living (SHIGAN) and the land of the dead (HIGAN) and represents pains you have to overcome to attain enlightenment.As the length of day and night are almost equal on the day of OHIGAN, it is believed that ancestors can easily cross the River Styx and come back to this side. Therefore, people in the land of the living clean the family graves, place flowers and incense, and offer the dead person’s favorites to appreciate the ancestors.There is a special bean-cake for this season. It is called BOTAMOCHI in spring and OHAGI in autumn though they are all the same flavor. BOTAMOCHI is named after tree peonies called BOTAN in Japanese and OHAGI is named after Japanese bush clover called HAGI in Japanese.People used to make this sticky rice ball coated with red bean paste made from AZUKI at home but nowadays many people buy it at store. They believe this sweet protects from bad luck.There is a Japanese saying that “No heat or cold remains after the equinox”. Each equinox day reminds Japanese people of not only visiting the family graves but reuniting their family occasionally.Contact us anytime if you have any questions about Japanese culture!

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  • Academic Year in Japan

    The academic year in Japan starts from April and ends in March. Students begin their first semester with beautiful cherry blossoms blooming around this time of the year. There are regional differences with the schedule, but the school year is normally divided into three semesters in Japan. At most elementary, junior high and high schools,* first semester starts from the beginning of April and ends in the middle of July* summer holiday in July and August* second semester from the end of August to the end of December* winter holiday in the end and beginning of the year* third semester from the beginning of January to the end of March* spring holiday from the end of March to the beginning of April.In the Edo period around the 17th century when schools called TERAKOYA were open the door to the general public, they are able to enroll in a school anytime they want. After the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, the academic year started from September followed by the Western educational system. The current three-semester system has been established in modern society followed by the Japanese fiscal year in the law. Standard Japanese education system includes six years in elementary school, three years in junior high school, three years in high school and two to four (sometimes six depending on your major) years in college or university. Everyone in Japan is required to complete elementary and junior high school by law.Besides, most of the companies in Japan starts and new comers have a company entrance ceremony in April too. Japanese think March is a time of farewell and April is a time of starting a new journey. One of the reasons why Japanese find cherry blossoms so exclusive might be that SAKURA is always there at their very special occasions in their lives.

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  • HINAMATSURI – Doll’s Festival –

    HINAMATURI is the festival for girls held on the 3rd of March. The families with girls display a set of special dolls called OHINASAMA for this event to pray for their girls’ health and happiness. It is also called Girls’ Festival and Peach Festival.  This display-only doll is called HINA NINGYO, not designed to be played as toys. The traditional set of dolls include,- the Emperor : ODAIRISAMA - the Empress : OHINASAMA- three court ladies : SANNIN KANJO- five court musicians (small drum, large drum, hand drum, flute and singer) : GONIN BAYASHI- the minister of the left : SADAIJIN- the minister of the right : UDAIJIN- Trees such as orange and cherry - Some sweets such as sweet rice puffs, sweet Japanese diamond-shaped rice cakes- Some traditional furniture, households, golden folding screens, paper lamps and carriages These dolls wear a very traditional Heian period court costume and are displayed on each platform. People believe that the dolls get rid of evil spirits of girls who own them and it is important for the family to put away the doll set immediately after the event is over. It is said that the girls (actually daughters of the family) will be delayed to get married or even not able to get married if the dolls stay displayed longer. In ancient times, people used to make paper dolls as effigies to take away their misfortune or disease. They threw the paper dolls into rivers or in the sea to pray for their good health.The festival of HINAMATSURI became an annual event after the Edo period.  Today the style is changed and people prefer to display a smaller set of dolls such as the Emperor and the Empress on one platform only to fit in modern Japanese houses. There are some traditional dishes for this event such as;- CHIRASHI Sushi (rice topped with chopped sashimi and ingredients)- Clam soup- Sweet white sake- HINA ARARE (sweet rice puffs in three colors, pink representing “peaches”, green “land” and white “snow”)- Sweet Japanese diamond-shaped rice cakes in three colors, pink, green and white Children sing songs of HINAMATSURI and make origami dolls at school and celebrate to eat the traditional dishes at home. People enjoy it as a seasonal event on the 3rd of March.Japan to the world.com sells OHINASAMA sets for girls. Please contact us if you have any questions and request.

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  • KAFUNSHOU – Hay Fever -

    The 11th of February is a national holiday called KENKOKU (national foundation) KINENBI (anniversary day). Old Japanese mythology says that it was on the 11th of February that the first emperor JIMMU ascended the throne and started the nation.  After this National Foundation Day, there comes a time when people need to get ready for it… Hay fever called KAFUNSHOU in Japanese is recently one of the serious social problems in Japan. It is said that more than half of Japanese suffer from pollen allergies. The cause of this national issue is lots of pollen of cedars and cypresses in the air. Many trees were cut down for fuel and material during the World War II. After the war the government planted many cedars and cypresses in the mountains as these trees grow fast. The trees were planted to rebuild houses destroyed in the war, but as inexpensive lumber imported from abroad were used for housing instead, these cedars and cypresses have left in the mountains without being cut down and the pollen is being dispersed by the wind. During spring season from February to May many Japanese suffer from the pollen of cedars and cypresses. When you get KAFUNSHOU, you have a runny and blocked nose, itchy eyes and throat, keep sneezing and feel drowsy. People put a mask on and even ware glasses when they go out to prevent pollen getting in their mouth and eyes. Some need to take drugs for the allergy. People allergic to pollen are having a really hard time every day till it goes away. What is worse, there is ragweed pollen in autumn, too. Therefore, some people suffer from hay fever almost all year round.Spring is a wonderful time to visit Japan, pleasant weather to travel around, beautiful cherry blossoms, but if you visit Japan during this pollen season, you might have to be ready for KAFUNSHOU. Good luck to your stay in spring!<Forecast of HAY FEVER>

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  • Setsubun

    The 3rd of February is called SETSUBUN, a day to celebrate the coming Spring, a day to pray for your happiness and good health.  Literally SETSUBUN means division of the seasons and a day before the beginning of each season. Therefore, Japan has four days of SETSUBUN in a year. Japan used to begin a year from the first day of Spring called RITSYUN. A day before RITSYUN, that is, SETSUBUN was a New Year’s Eve. Therefore, this 3rd of February SETSUBUN is most important and remained as SETSUBUN for now. It was said that demons which means ONI in Japanese came at SETSUBUN and brought bad luck to people. There are some traditional events for SETSUBUN to avoid the invisible evil power. MAMEMAKI (throwing roasted soy beans) is the most common at home and temples. It started in the HEIAN period around the 8th century. People throw away the beans in and out of the house and shout two times “ONI WA SO TO! FUKU WA UCHI!” which means “Demons out! Good fortune in!”. There are several theories about the origin of this event and some say that MA means evil and ME means destroy, so people throw beans (MAME) to drive away evil demons (ONI). Afterwards people pick up the beans and eat the same number of beans as your age to wish your good health for the year. Each region has their unique events for this SETSUBUN. Some regions say “Both demons and good fortune in!”, some throw peanuts instead of roasted soy beans, some eat the same number of beans as your age plus one, some hang sardine heads and holly branches at the entrance of the house to avoid demons. Recently a sushi roll called EHOUMAKI is popular to eat at a day of SETSUBUN but this custom has started in the Western part of Japan by some stores to sell their food and eventually spread around. It is a commercial even like a St. Valentine’s day. If you visit Japan around this season, you can find many kinds of EHOUMAKI at convenience stores, supermarkets, everywhere in Japan.

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  • SHODO - Japanese calligraphy -

    SHODO means Japanese calligraphy.SHODO is a kind of Japanese traditional art and also the way of writing Chinese characters (KANJI) and Japanese characters (HIRAGANA). SHODO needs special writing tools; brushes (FUDE), ink or an ink stick (SUMI), an ink well (SUZURI), special Japanese paper (HANSHI), a felt mat for the paper and a paper weight (BUNCHIN). These tools have been used for writing since the 5th century.First people need to rub an ink stick (SUMI) on an ink well (SUZURI) and concentrate on writing on the paper. They need to focus on the color tone and shading of the ink, also how they handle and move a brush (FUDE) in the creation. Great calligraphy impresses people by its beauty as well as it can express the creator’s character and emotion.Calligraphy came from China around Tang Dynasty (618-907) and Japanese calligraphy was affected by many great Chinese calligraphers such as Wáng Xīzhī (王羲之). In those days, the high skill of SHODO was essential for those in upper class including Samurai.Nowadays, most of students in Japan learn how to write calligraphy and SHODO is a typical homework during a long holiday and eventually displayed on the wall of the class at school. Some people use a brush (FUDE) to write the seasons’ greeting card and some write their name in the list by FUDE at formal occasions such as wedding parties or funerals. SHODO is not just an art but is an important skill to communicate with people in their daily lives.KAKIZOME, calligraphy for the first time in the year, is a Japanese traditional writing ceremony held on the 2nd of January. People usually write down their New Year’s resolutions.There is a traditional fire event called DONDOYAKI or SAGICHOU on the 15th of January at shrines and temples. It means the end of the new year and is believed the new year spirits go home with the smoke and the fire. People burn the New year’s decorations together with the paper they wrote at KAKIZOME, hoping to improve the writing skills and to make their wishes.SHODO has taken a part in a traditional part of Japanese culture for many years.

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  • HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020

    Season’s greetings and best wishes in 2020 Japanese New Year is the 1st of January. It is called “GANTAN”. This special period from the 1st to 3rd is  called “OSHOUGATSU”. It is the most important time of the year for Japanese. It is time for family reunion like Christmas or Thanksgiving.There are some special decorations for Oshougatsu period. “SHIMENAWA” is  twisted straw ropes and “KADOMATSU”bamboo poles placed in front of the entrance of the house for protection from evils.There are also essential meals to eat on New Year’s Day called “OSECHI” which includes many kinds of traditional foods packed in special boxes, also “ZOUNI” a traditional soup with “MOCHI (rice cake)”. Each area has their own unique recipe of Zouni. They use different local soup stock and even different shape of Mochi. Some area has chicken, some only vegetable but it must include Mochi as it represents good luck through the year.Many people visit shrines to make wishes for the new year during the first three or seven days of January. This event is called “HATSUMOUDE” which means the first visit of shrine.Some might spend all night having parties with friends and being together with families, some might try to climb up the mountains to see the first sunrise of the year. Children get money in a special envelop. It is called “OTOSHIDAMA”. People send each other special cards printed a zodiac symbol (Mouse in 2020) called “NENGAJO” like Christmas cards.Besides, watching TV and eating SOBA (noodles) is a kind of typical,  signature event on New Year’s Eve. Bells in temples are rung 108 times around midnight of New Year’s Eve and after the 108 bells the new year comes.There are many events and customs to spend New Year’s Eve and celebrate the new year’s period. Japan to the world.com wishes you all for a wonderful holiday season and for happiness in 2020 !

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  • KUMANO FUDE

    The town called Kumano is in a small basin surrounded by mountains, located at Aki, Hiroshima prefecture (the southern part of Japan).Kumano has been producing brushes for over 180 years. In the Edo period (around the late 18 century) people in Kumano started purchasing brushes and ink from Nara (a former capital between 710 and 792) and resold them for their living during the agricultural off-season. Since then, under the Hiroshima local government support, they learned and improved the special skills of handling brushes, and consequently, Kumano became a famous place for brush making. All the steps to produce one brush are manually proceeded. The tips of Kumano brushes are intentionally uneven producing an extremely soft touch. It is said that it takes over 10 years to handle animal hairs properly. All the materials such as natural animal hairs and wooden handles are imported from outside of Kumano and Kumano is the place for finishing brushes by highly skilled and officially authorized craftsmen.Therefore, the skilled makeup artists and celebrities in and outside of Japan are obsessed to use Kumano brushes. Our Kumano Fude Makeup Brushes are created by the officially authorized and oldest members with over 100 years of history in the Kumano area. We offer the finest range of high-quality brushes. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. You can access us by + Contact on this web site+ E-mail -> info@japantotheworld.com+ Twitter -> @japan2theworld                             

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  • TATAMI - Japanese Flooring -

    Traditional Japanese-style houses have special rooms used a special flooring material called Tatami (or Tatami mat) made of rush grasses (Igusa). A room with Tatami is called “Washitsu”. Recently the houses become more westernized because of the lifestyle change. More houses have no Washitsu though there are still some favored this Japanese-style room.In Japan people take off their shoes before entering a house which does not bring in any dirt from your shoes. Tatami consists of mainly rice straw and rushes (Igusa) and has resilient soft surface. Therefore, it is comfortable to sit and lie down directly on Tatami.It is said that the distinctive incense of rushes (Igusa) has a sedating effect like a healing effect by forest bathing. Japanese find a sense of comfort in such Tatami smell when they take a deep breath at entering the Tatami rooms (Washitsu) and calm down at lying down directly on the Tatami.Nowadays some offices and hotels outside Japan find value of Tatami and more places actually implement to use Tatami for their living rooms, bed rooms and so on.<Structure of Tatami>The surface of Tatami Doko compacted rice straws is covered with woven rushes (Igusa) called Tatami Omote, sewn by a band called Tatami Beri. In short, a Tatami is made up of three components, the surface Tatami Omote, the inner core Tatami Doko, and the border Tatami Beri. The material of Tatami Doko is recently used polystyrene foams or insulation boards.<Super Insulation and Moisturizing Power>Tatami Doko and Tatami Omote contain air, which results in cutting off cold and hot air outside and keeps pleasant room temperature in both summer and winter. Rushes (Igusa) absorb moisture by its sponge-like holes and emits humidity when it is dry. <Relaxing Effect of Tatami>Tatami gives off a pleasant smell of rushes (Igusa). The scent has a calming and relaxing effect like a forest bathing. Some studies show that rushes (Igusa) absorb carbon dioxide and clean the air.<Soundproof>The air in Tatami Doko and rushes (Igusa) absorb the noise. This soundproof characteristic reduces the noise of footsteps and provides calm and peaceful atmosphere. <Flame Resistance>Compressed rushes (Igusa) contain some humidity and has anti-fire properties. When it burns, it is not being spread quickly but smoldering. This flame resistance traits is highly evaluated by Japan Fire and Disaster Management Agency. OEM products also available. Please feel free to contact us if you have any requests or questions on the products.

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  • WAGARA - Japanese pattern -

    Wagara (Japanese Patterns) is the pattern used for the Japanese traditional crafts, Japanese papers, Japanese traditional clothes (Kimono and Yukata). They are placed orderly in the geometric patterns abstractly representing natural phenomenon or the patterns of a motif of animals and plants.< Hemp Leaf (Asanoha) >A hexagon-based geometric design, which is commonly used in the patterns for swaddling cloth because of the characters of strong and growing fast.< Arrow Fletching (Yagasuri) >The pattern of arrow feathers represents released arrows that never come back. Therefore, in the Edo period the pattern became popular among girls to wear when they get married.< Japanese Check (Ichimatsu) >It was originally called “paving stones” and changed to “Ichimatsu” afterward. The name of Ichimatsu came from a famous Kabuki actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu as he liked to use the pattern on his clothes at the Edo dynasty.< Seven Treasures (Shippou/Shippo) >The pattern of Shippou (Shippo) consists of many intersecting and everlasting circles. It shows seven treasures such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, giant clams, coral and agate, which represents peace, harmony and luck.< Blue Ocean / Blue Wave (Seigaiha) > The wave pattern represents everlasting happiness and a peaceful life.< Woven Bamboo Basket (Kagome) >A motif of a woven bamboo basket is used as a charm because of the shape of hexagram and actual woven baskets were used to be placed as a charm at the entrance of houses.< Sankuzushi >The pattern comes from the shape of a counting rod which was used for mathematics in old China and Japan. After that, the pattern changed to three lines, four lines or five lines and they are called “Sankuzushi”, “Yonkuzushi” and “Gokuzushi” respectively.< Tortoiseshell (Kikkou/Kikko) >The pattern comes from the shape of turtleback. Turtles represent long-life and fortune in Japan. The equilateral hexagon is popularly used for Japanese family emblems.< Seed Stitch (Kanoko) >It comes from the pattern of the back of fawns. The Kimono of Kanoko pattern is expensive as it requires lot of trouble to dye the fabric of this pattern. Kanoko also represents descendant prosperities.Japan to the world.com produces various items using Japanese patterns. Please contact us if you have any questions and request.

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  • UKIYOE -Japanese Art-

    One of the genres of painting that began around 1550 in the Edo period in Japan. It appeared as a picture depicting Ukiyo, that is, a genre painting.In short, it describes;・The tough and fragile life of common people・This worldIt features bold composition, strong lines and shadow-less expression, etc. The Ukiyo-e shows us the everyday life and the culture of commoners of the Edo period.Ukiyo-e in the early stages was mainly original drawings and single-color woodblock prints. In the middle stages (around 1765-1806) multicolor woodblock prints were developed. At the same time the work divided into groups of Shitaeshi (Ukiyo-e painters), Horishi (carvers) and Surishi (printers). This division of labor established the mass prodcution system and brought its golden age. Furthermore, the portraits of beautiful women, Kabuki actors and famous scenerise were also released and Ukiyo-e became a great popular culture in Japan.At the late stages (around 1807-1858) world famose Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Utagawa Kuniyoshi appeared and created the big trend of Ukiyo-e.After the rapid social changes called Civilization and Enlightenment of Japan and The Meiji Restoration happened in Japan, Ukiyo-e played an important role of a medium with a very broad appeal to the masses.The new art movement called "Japonisme" flourished in Europe mainly in France in the 19th Century. The movement affected several different fields of arts witch especially had a great influence on Impression for such as Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. It is widely known that "La Mer" composed by Claude Debussy and "Big Wave" sculptured by Camille Claudel were inspired by Hokusai's famose paint called "Kanagawa Oki". OEM products also available. Please feel free to contact us if you have any requests or questions on the products.< Hard cover for iPhone>

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  • FUJIN RAIJIN - Wind Gods and Thunder Gods -

    The folding screen painting “Wind God and Thunder God Screens” of Kyoto National Museum is called Fujin (wind god) and Raijin (thunder god) Zu (paint) and is registered as a national treasure. The wind god (Fujin at right) blows the wind out of the tare bringing storms and heavy rain to the human world. The thunder god (Raijin at left) plays the drums and produces thunder and lightning.The design of the wind gods was already used for coins at Kushan dynasty (AD 1-3 century) in India and the mural of the wind and thunder gods existed in Dunhuang, China. The wooden statue of the wind and thunder gods was built at Kamakura dynasty (1185-1333) in Japan too and it was placed as a national treasure at a temple called  in Higashiyama, Kyoto. A famous painter Tawaraya Sotatsu modeled Fujin Raijin Zu (Wind God and Thunder God Screens) on the folding screen after this wooden statue. When talking about Fujin Raijin in Japan, most of the people are reminded of the one painted by Tawaraya Sotatsu, though few people do remember of his name together.After Tawaraya Sotatsu, Ogata Korin replicated the painting of the gods (approx. 1711) which was also reproduced by Sakai Hoitsu again (approx. 1821). It is said that Suzuki Kiitsu (a disciple of Sakai Hoitsu) also replicated it afterwards (approx.1830).The motif of Fujin Raijin spread over Japan by these multiple paintings therefore we can see Fujin Raijin in many paints or statues at temples and shrines even now. Fuji Raijin represents the gods for huge harvest and has lived forever in people’s mind for a long time.<Temples and Shrines>Here is the places you can see Fujin Raijin.+ Tokizan Jikouji (都幾山慈光寺観音堂) at Saitama + Sensouji Kaminarimon (浅草寺・雷門) at Tokyo+ Rinnouji Taiyuuinn (輪王寺大猷院 二天門) at Tochigi+  (妙福寺志貴毘沙門天) at Aichi+ Kongouji (金剛寺/紅葉寺) at TokyoThe commemorative 500-yen coin for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics features Fujin (wind gods) and the coin for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics features Raijin (thunder gods).We design and produce various products featuring Fuji Raiji. OEM products also available. Please feel free to contact us if you have any requests or questions on the products.

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