The Urban Dharma Newsletter... October 29, 2002


In This Issue:

1. Jizo Bodhisattva
2. Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
3. Jizo Bodhisattva
...Guardian of...
4. Jizo in Japanese culture
5. Yanaka  Baby
6. Jizo and The Old Man
...Tadami Town
7. Book Review: Jizo Bodhisattva: Modern Healing and Traditional Buddhist Practice...
8. Temple/Center of the Week: San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin


1. Jizo Bodhisattva

* http://www.xrefer.com/entry/217897

The Japanese name for the Mahayana Buddhist bodhisattva ('Buddha-to-be'), Kshitigarbha, known as Dìzàng in China

Numbered among the eight great bodhisattvas, Jizo is believed to be concerned with the welfare of children, travellers, and lost souls, and to be the guardian of highways and of mountain passes. He is sometimes shown in a series of six images.


2. Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

* http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/jizo-popup.html

Ksitigarbha literally means "Womb of the Earth " or "the one who encompasses the earth". According to the "Ten Wheel of Earth Womb Sutra", the name represents this Bodhisattva's personality which include patience, stillness, hardness and vastness (like earth), deepness and profundity (like womb). The implication is that our mind creates all Dharma and accommodates all matters just like the earth womb. It is the foundation on which everything grows, including the immeasurable treasures - the Buddhist Way. Ksitigarbha is the bodhisattva who saves suffering beings in the Hell, therefore, is often referred to as the Bodhisattva of the Hell beings because of his vow to not achieve Buddhahood until "all the Hells are empty". This vow actually encompasses all sentient beings.

Ksitigarbha is the only Bodhisattva portrayed as a monk. He has a monk's pilgrim's staff with six rings, which signifies that Ksitigarbha stands by all beings in the six paths of existence. According to the "Earth Womb Sutra", Ksitigarbha was appointed by Shakyamuni to be the headmaster of Buddhism on Earth during the period from the Nirvana of Shakyamuni to the advent of Maitreya, the next Buddha born on Earth. As the master of the six paths (Hell, Ghost, Animal, Man, Asura and Deva) he is described as savior for all beings from suffering. With this responsibility, his status is well-respected by all Buddhas and other beings in the Ten Dharma Realms including human beings. Because Ksitigarbha is connected to deliver sentient beings wandering astray in the Hell, this expresses an extremely profound and esoteric aspect of the Bodhisattva's compassionate activity. This deepest compassion is working from the highest to the lowest. He is thus the supreme embodiment of spiritual optimism, the most profound development of Mahayana universalism.

Over one thousand years ago, a Korean Buddhist monk named Gin-Chau-Jue went to Jo-Hwa Mountain in China for Dharma practice around in mid-Tong Dynasty. Regional followers believed Gin is the emanation of Ksitigarbha therefore, after he passed away, start building temples to worship him. Since then Jo-Hwa Mountain becomes the sacred site of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.

In China, Ksitigarbha is known as Di-Tsang, in Japan as Jizo. Ksitigarbha is especially popular in Japan as the savior of the souls of dead children, particularly aborted ones. He is more popular in the Far East than he ever was in India and Tibet.


3. JIZO BODHISATTVA ...Guardian of Deceased Children, Expectant Mothers, Firemen, Travelers, and Pilgrims.

* http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/jizo1.html

One of the most beloved of all Japanese divinities, Jizo works to ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those serving time in hell. He is the guardian of unborn children in particular, as well as expectant mothers, firemen, travelers, and pilgrams.

Although of India origin, he is revered more widely in Japan, Korea, and China than in either India or Tibet, and appears to have entered Japan around the sixth or seventh century AD along with Buddhism's introduction to Japan. Kshitigarbha (Jizo) was worshipped in China as early as the fifth century A.D., but is mentioned much earlier in the Mahavaipulya Sutras of India (in which he appears to the historical Buddha at the time of the Buddha's death). Like the Goddess of Mercy, Jizo is a bodhisattva (one who achieves enlightment but postpones Buddhahood, or the rest of Nirvana, until all can be saved.

At Hase Dera Temple in Kamakura, where most of these photos were taken, Jizo plays the role of guardian for stillborn, miscarried, or aborted children. Hundreds of little Jizo statues can be found at this temple.

According to tradition, children who die prematurely are sent to the underworld as punishment for causing great sorrow to their parents (their death caused grief to their folks). They are sent to Sai no Kawara, the dry bed of the river of souls in purgatory, where they pray for Buddha's compassion by building small stone towers, piling stone upon stone. But an underworld demon soon arrives and scatters their stones and beats them with an iron club.

But, no need to worry, for Jizo comes to the rescue to help the children. Because of this traditional story, children who die prematurely in Japan are called "mizuko children," or water children, and the saddened parents pray to "Mizuko Jizo." 

Even today, you will invariably find little heaps of stones around Jizo statues, as many believe that a stone offered in faith will shorten the time their child suffers in the underworld.

You will also notice that Jizo statues are often wearing tiny garments. Since Jizo is the guardian of dead children, sorrowing mothers bring the little garments of their lost ones and dress the Jizo statue in hopes the kindly god will specially protect their child.

A little hat or bib is often seen as well, the gift of a rejoicing parent whose child has been cured of dangerous sickness thanks to Jizo's intervention.

Jizo also has many devotees among firemen. The story is that Jizo descends into the infernal regions to witness the punishments and tortures of condemned souls. He was so affected by their agony that he, for a time, took the place of their relentless custodian, and greatly reduced the intense heat of the purgatorial fires to ease their pain. Hence his following among firemen. This Jizo is known as the Black Jizo (the "Kuro" or "Hitaki" Jizo). See photo near bottom of page for a graphic depiction of Jizo decending into the underworld.

Roku Jizo (Groupings of Six Jizo)

In Japan, legend also says that there are six paths to hell, and Jizo groupings of six are quite common, one each to protect people from taking the wrong path. Jizo also carries a staff with six rings, which he shakes to awaken us from our delusions. But more accurately, the six forms of Jizo reflect the Six Paths of Transmigration (hell, hungry ghosts, beasts, demons, human beings, and heavenly beings). I'm not sure, but this grouping of six if also probably closely related to the symbolic six worlds shown in the traditional Wheel of Life.


4. Jizo in Japanese culture

* http://www.artbyoju.com/jizotext.html

Did you know? Jizo Stone statues of Jizo (Ksitigarbha) are seen all over the country. some are housed in beautiful temples, some in little huts, and others are found standing by the country roadsides. They are one of the most popular kinds of statues that has become so characteristic of country life.

Jizo was originally Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) of Buddhism who stood between the world of reality and the world of the dead and saved those who were on their way to the netherworld. Jizo was entrusted with the task of saving the people after the death of Buddha until such a time when the second Buddha would appear. so in Buddhism he had an important position, and coming to Japan he has been popularized, and has become the protector of the people.

Jizo is thought to be a mild, gentle and kind Bosatsu - Jizo-gao (Jizo-face) means a gentle, smiling face.

A Jizo-bosatsu helps relieve people who are suffering from distress.

Dosojin is a roadside icon usually placed at a street corner or at the foot of a bridge to protect pedestrians.

Fortune-telling Jizo:

When one loses some valuables, wishes to know the meaning of a dream he had the night before, desires to locate a missing person, or wants to find a remedy for his illness, it is customary in some districts to consult Jizo. Jizo is believed to be able to give answers to all such questions.


Probably because fires are quite frequent in the countly, there are many Jizo which are believed to have power to extinguish fire. These Jizo are worshipped in various districts by those rural people who believe that this god will save them at the time of fire.


In many different places throughout the country, there are Jizo statues called Migawari-Jizo or Jizowho take the place of people. It is commonly believed if a man worships Jizo, Jizo will take his place when he is in some great difficulty, or in danger of losing his life. There are numerous stories telling how Jizo statues were killed or attacked in place of their worshippers. Jizo statues having such traditional tales have many worshippers because the people believe that such Jizo would save them in emergencies.


Throughout Japan there are quite a number of Jizo statues which are called Tauye-Jizo or rice planting Jizo, which are worshipped by farmers in the hope it will aid their rice-planting. There are many traditional tales telling of Jizo giving aid to farmers in the rice-planting season.

The names of Buddhist temples (tera or o-tera) usually end in the suffixes "-ji" or "-in" (To-ji, Jako-in), but occasionally "-dera"(Oka-dera). Shinto shrines (jinja) end in "-jinja"(Yasaka Jinja), or for larger shrines "-jingu" or just "-gu" (Meiji Jingu, Kitano Tenman-gu), and occasionally "-taisha" (Sumiyoshi Taisha). The word miya is the same character as -gu (large shrine) and is commonly used in place names, but is pronounced gu in the names of actual shrines.

I have mentioned Jizo shrines, which are in fact not buildings, nor are they Shinto. They are little stone monuments, usually about the size and shape of a rounded stone mile-post, with the face of the Buddhist deity Jizo (jee-zo) carved into them. If you don't see lots of them, you're not getting away from it all.

Many of the stone Jizos are very old and look it, with all detail worn away from the rounded stone. People on religious pilgrimages -- or just on their way to a shrine -- will stop to say a prayer and leave a little offering (a coin, candle, fruit, or flower) at every little Jizo they pass. Jizos are often clothed in red bibs, often dozens and dozens of them, which are also commonly left as offerings. In Japanese Buddhism, Jizo is regarded as a savior of children and protector of travelers. Roadside statues of Jizo are found throughout Japan.

A story I found about a particular Jizo is given below:

"When I got back from our three-day school trip, I re-read "Angry Jizo." It is a story about the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

A brilliant flash painted the town white. It was as if the sun had fallen before his very eyes. People wearing scorched and tattered shirts fled past the fallen Jizo, dragging their feet on the ground. When the fires finally died down, the city of Hiroshima had become a vast field of burnt-out ruins, without houses or schools or office buildings or trees or flowers. A badly burned little girl collapsed face down in front of the stone Jizo. Her entire back was bright red, as if draped with a blanket of red peonies. "Mo-m-my, water. I want some water," the girl said, looking at the stone Jizo. "Some water, please, water."

Before this, the stone Jizo had been known as "Smiling Jizo," but at this point, tears fell from his angry eyes. Mr. Uchida and all the other survivors shed tears just like this stone Jizo. For the sake of all those who died, they have joined the movement to ban the bomb and they call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. It's something they feel they just have to do."


5. Yanaka  Baby

* http://www14.u-page.so-net.ne.jp/za2/yukisumi/baby.htm

On a Tokyo back street a few blocks from my house is a small human figure carved on a stone.  It is a jizo, a god imported from India, via China and mixed with the local gods along the way.  It is believed to protect travelers and children.

There are fresh flowers in front of it every day.  Behind it is a pomegranate tree and a red coke-a-cola machine.

There are still many street jizos in this part of town.  This one has writing on it ? a date and a name, "Plum Blossom."  It is her name.  The death name of a child that died in the early spring.  Plum blossom only fits in the early spring.  The date says she died in the Edo Era, about the time Fuji last erupted.

No one here knows that girl, or any of the family that came after her.  But they still keep fresh flowers in front of the stone.  They keep it clean.  They keep it in place.


6. JIZO AND THE OLD MAN ...Tadami Town

* http://www.pref.fukushima.jp/list_e/mw962_le.html

Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman. The new year was just around the corner, so the old woman, with flaxen textiles she had woven by hand with heart and soul, said to the old man, "The new year is coming closer. We'd better sell these textiles in Tadami and prepare for the new year. Would you go to Tadami to sell them?"

"All right," said the old man, and totteringly set out for Tadami in the rain, wearing a straw rain coat and a bamboo hat. In his hands were the textiles the old woman had woven.

In front of a shrine on the way to Tadami he found Roku-Jizo, or the six guardian deities of children, soaked with sleet. The deities appeared to be shivering in the freezing cold. The old man thought to himself, "I feel cold even wearing a straw rain coat and a bamboo hat. The Jizo-sama must be very cold. Oh, poor Jizo-sama...."

"I have a good idea! I will tear up the textiles my wife wove and cover the poor Jizo-sama with the strips."

Then the old man, getting the textiles down from his back, started ripping them into strips and using them to cover the Jizo. When he was finished he said to himself, "Jizo-sama must be somehow warmer now. I'm really glad. Since I have given them all the cloth my wife wove, I can no longer buy anything for the new year. Still, we can greet the new year with the buckwheat porridge or rice gruel we already have at home. I will talk about it to her when I get home."

Then the old man headed unsteadily for home. At home he talked about the guardian deities to the old woman, who was equally happy.

"Oh, that is wonderful. Jizo-sama must be really happy now. I am really pleased," said the old woman.

After having dinner, the old man and woman went to bed. When they awoke after a while, they could faintly hear someone in the distance saying, "Where is the old man's house? Where is the old woman's house? Let's pull the loads with 'yo-ho!' They aren't so heavy. Yo-ho!"

"What's that? They say 'the old man's house' and 'the old woman's house.' I cannot think of any house around here except for ours. That's rather strange," the old man said to his wife.

"Where is the old man's house? Where is the old woman's house? Let's pull the loads with 'yo-ho.' They aren't so heavy. Yo-ho!" The voice came closer and closer. And in front of the old man's house, the Jizo stopped and said, "Here it is. This is the old man's house. Here it is. I'm so happy we found it."

"The old man and woman are asleep. Open the door and drop the loads inside the house."

Jizo put down the loads with a thud in a corner of the house. "Very good. The old man will be delighted. Very good. Let's go back," said Jizo.

After Jizo left, the surprised old man and woman woke up to find out what had happened. They found, among many gifts, glorious articles for the new year--you could probably find such splendid things only in a castle--and red clothes for the children living in the vicinity of the old couple's abode.

"I tore up the textiles and covered Jizo-sama with them. Jizo-sama, who felt very warm in the shredded textiles, must have left these as a present for us," said the old man. The old man and woman blubbered for joy.

As everyone was preparing for the new year, the old man and woman distributed the red clothes and new year food among their neighbors, and they lived happily ever after.


7. Jizo Bodhisattva: Modern Healing and Traditional Buddhist Practice ...by Jan Chozen Bays, Ven. Heng Sure

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0804831890/wwwkusalaorg-20/

Amazon.com- Reviewer: Noah Soule from Pai, Northern Thailand... Jan Chozen Bays Roshi's new book Jizo Bodhisattva, Modern Healing & Traditional Buddhist Practice shows many sides to the complex character of this modern western Zen Teacher. This Book will also aquaint many western readers with Jizo Bohdisattva, the Japanese interpretation of Quan Yin (the chinese goddess of good fortune.) This book contains a wonderful blend of interesting scholarly work, heart opening personal experience and inspiration from some of the grittier aspects of zen practice. Far from being a remote monastic, Chozen Roshi has "taken the mountain to the market place," and as this book clearly demonstrates, all those who have been touched by her practice have benefited. From her compassionate listening to the victims of sexual abuse, to her one on one training interviews with her students, Chozen Roshi's inspiration truly makes her a living bodhisattva.

Cultivating the same qualities that mystics throughout the ages have taught, these stories of Jizo demonstrate the value of selflessness, compassionate action and fearlessness. Jizo Bodhisattva is the showing of the way, the support we need to do it ourselves, the compassionate voice in our heart and in the heart of all things. Truly mystics will recognize the immortal spirit of wisdom incarnate in Jizo Bodhisattva and scholars will welcome Chozen Roshi's addition to the field of Buddhist studies.

Amazon.com- Reviewer: Michael from Portland OR... I could go on and on about this book, but what I really want to say is that this is a perfect book for our troubled times. I hope many people read it, learn from it, and practice with it.


8. San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin


640 North 5th Street, San Jose, CA 95112
e-Mail: sjbc@sjbetsuin.com

Office Hours

Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday ** 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Founded in 1902, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin (SJBCB) is a Temple of the Jodo Shinshu Nishi Hongwanji tradition of Buddhism.

SJBCB is a member of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) and part of the Coast Distrct.

We are located in the Japantown area of downtown San Jose. Our primary focus is on following the path to enlightenment by preserving faith the Three Treasures: Dharma (the teachings), Sangha (the people), Buddha (the Enlightened One)

The following service schedule applies during the regular school year - early September through mid-June.

Dharma School Service

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM

This service is oriented toward the childresn and their parents. Incense offering, chanting, singing, and a brief sermon (Dharma talk) are part of the service. The children are then dismissed to Dharma School.

Adult Service

10:10 AM - 11:00 AM

A more in depth Dharma talk distinguishes this services which is meant for any and all interested people.

Japanese Language Service

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Similar to the Adult Service, the entire service is conducted in Japanese. Open to everyone.

* The following schedule applies during the Summer months - mid-June until early September.

Sunday Family Service

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

During the summer, the Dharma School, Adult, and Japanese Language Services are suspended, and a single Sunday Family Service takes their place. Similar in basic format to the Adult Service, the Sunday Family Service begins as typical services, but separate English and Japanese language discussions are held during the service. All who wish to come meet first in the Hondo (main Temple), and the Ministers will provide directions.



A movement to start a Buddhist group in San Jose was Initiated under the leadership of \ Kuwada, Kumakichi Nakamura,' Fukuichi Okida, and others around 1900. It started as a Howakai or religious meetings held at various Buddhist homes on a rotation basis. On August 28, 1902, the first Jodo Shinshu Buddhist organization called the San Jose Hongwanji Buddhist Church was recognized as a branch of the San Francisco Buddhist Church with ministers traveling from San Francisco to conduct monthly services and meetings. These meetings were held at Various homes as a Temple of their own did not exist at that time.

Reverend Honen Takahashi came from Japan In 1906 to become the first resident minister In San Jose. History gives his service years as 1906 to 1908, but that Is Incorrect. He was in San Jose until at least July 2, 1915, because he was named as one of the defendants In a Superior Court lawsuit for not paying for lumber purchased to build the Independent Buddhist Mission of San Jose in 1913. Others named in this lawsuit were Iwakichl Kuwada, K. Taketa, and T. Fukul. [Summons #22368 dated July 2, 1915, In Archives file.]

On December 11, 1906, a Mr. J. Maruyama paid Attorney B. Grant Taylor to examine title to the middle 1/3 of Lot 194, Block 19, of White's addition to the City of San Jose and paid the County Recorder $1.00 for the release of Mortgage, Montgomery and Rea to Brickenridge and $1.00 for a Deed, Brickenridge to Maruyama This property was recorded as 630 North Fifth Street, where our current Annex building stands today, and where the Independent Buddhist Mission of San Jose stood, built In 1913. [Documents In Archive file.) This property was the home of Mrs. G. Brickenridge who, with her husband David BrIckenridge, purchased said property on February 28, 1888. T. S. Montgomery and James W. Rea were the mortgage holders of this property. The first church at this address was known as the San Jose Hongwanji Buddhist Church.

Our history tells us that Reverend Gyoow Sasaki, second resident minister, arrived In San Jose In 1907 to assist Reverend Honen Takahashi. This Hongwanji Church experienced some turbulent days In 1906, and a falling out between the two ministers occurred. To this day, the reason for this division Is not clearly known. Reverend Honen Takahashi and some of the members seceded from the Hongwanji and formed their own Independent Buddhist Mission at 630 North Fifth Street. Where Reverend Sasaki held his Hongwanji services Is unclear. It had to be a Howakai held at various members' homes on a rotation basis.

Meanwhile, on June 26, 1909, the Maruyama's held property at 630 North Fifth Street was sold to the State for delinquent taxes. On December 5, 1910, J. Maruyama bought back the property by paying back taxes of $37.75. This property was valued at $515.00 at the time. [Document In Archives file.]

The 523 North Sixth Street property's legal description was *1 1/3 part of Lot 188 In Block 18 of White's addition to the City of San Jose." There was a home on this property. Michael Madden and his wife Jane E. Madden sold this property to Walter Trinkler on June 25, 1907, selling price unknown. On November 8, 1907, Walter Trinkler, for Love and Affection, gave this property to his wife, Antonia M. Trinkler.

On August 30, 1911 [original Deed of Trust dated August 31, 1911, on file in Archives.), Reverend Gyoow Sasaki, a single man, purchased 523 North Sixth Street from Antonia M. and Walter Trinkler for $200.00 with a down payment of $10.00 American gold coin. Deed of Trust held by the Trinklers with "a promissory note of even date herewith, for the sum of Two Hundred (200) dollars, in sixty days, with Interest at the rate and times therein specified; also the payment of such additional sums not exceeding in the aggregate sum of $500.00."

Reverend Gyoow Sasaki already had a loan lined up from The Yokohama Specie Bank, Limited, in San Francisco on July 22, 1911, at 7% interest before he purchased the North Sixth Street property. On September 8, 1911, Reverend Sasaki went to City Hall and obtained a building permit from G. W. Darling, Building Inspector, for "remodeling 523 North Sixth Street for Mission for himself." He paid a fee of $4.00. [Receipt #83 dated 9?8?11 In Archives file.] On December 31, 1911, Reverend Sasaki obtained another loan for $500.00 from the Yokohama Specie Bank of San Francisco. The funds from these loans must have been used for the remodeling or the building of a new Church on this property. Both these loans were paid off on February 23, 1912. [Receipts In our Archives file.]

Other than what I've already mentioned here, there Is nothing in our Archives pertaining to the construction of a church at 523 North Sixth Street. We know from our pictorial collections that a beautiful Japanese styled church was built here by Shinzaburo Nishiura and his brother G. Nishiura, as well as the 630 North Fifth Street Independent Buddhist Mission in 1913, and our current Hondo at 640 North Fifth Street In 1936 ? 1937.

On February 17, 1912, Reverend Sasaki obtained a loan from a Mr. Jerome Bailey for $1,000.00. [Receipt In Archives file.] The Trinklers were paid off In full by this time, so the Reverend used the property as collateral for this loan. He paid a quarterly Interest of $17.50 until he paid off this loan in full on May 17, 1915. It is my strong feeling that this fund was also used In the construction of the Church.

On April 16, 1912, Reverend G. Sasaki, Y. Salto, and K. Dobashl obtained a

$200.00 loan from the Nippon Bank of Sacramento, California, at the rate of 1.5% per month, said Interest to be paid monthly. It was due on September 15, 1912, and was paid off In full. [Receipt In Archives file.]

Reverend Sasaki insured this frame building with Aetna Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, on April 9, \1913, for $1,000.00, loss payable to Jerome Bailey, for a $9.00 premium. The next day he Insured the contents for $500.00 coverage, for an additional premium of $4.50. Reverend Sasaki's Buddhist Mission of San Jose filed Incorporation papers on July 15, 1913. No street address other than San Jose, California, was listed on the Incorporation papers. Signers were G. Sasaki, President; S. Jio, First Vice President; T. Nakamoto, Second Vice President, J. B. Fukui, Secretary; K. Dobashl, Treasurer; K. Z. Hayashi and N. Ishikawa, Directors. [Legal document In Archive files.]

When the Independent Mission group filed for their incorporation papers fifteen days later on July 30, 1913, no street address was used on their papers. This made things very confusing for the next generation In 1936, as you will learn later.

We have in our Archives a permit obtained from the City of San Jose to construct a new church on North Fifth Street In 1913. This was the familiar two?story church with a bell tower and a stairway leading up to the second floor chapel from the front side of the building. Our early history dates this church as erected in 1908, but that Is Incorrect. The previous building standing here was sold for $40.00, either dismantled and moved, or demolished. [Receipt in Archives file.] After the fire of 1925, the bell tower was removed, and the new stairway to the Chapel went straight up from the sidewalk.

Since coming to San Jose, Reverend Sasaki took a bride, also from Japan. On July 24, 1913, Reverend Sasaki and his wife, Yuki Sasaki, relinquished their legal rights to 523 North Sixth Street to the Buddhist Mission of San Jose, Inc. The consideration was $10.00 American gold coin. Mrs. Yukl Sasaki could not sign her name on the Deed of Trust, so she signed It with an "X," witnessed by Will M. Beggs, attorney, and Fred Beck. Will M. Beggs was the attorney who drew up the Articles of Incorporation for the Mission. This title transfer was done in anticipation of Reverend and Mrs. Sasaki leaving San Jose. They left In 1915 and whether they returned to Japan or transferred to another Temple stateside Is unknown.

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