12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

It’s no secret – Tokyo is a very big city. Not only is it Japan’s capital, it’s also the most populated city in the world. So if you only have a few days to explore Tokyo, it can seem overwhelming. It would literally take a lifetime to explore every inch of Japan’s capital city, so don’t give yourself any unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, you won’t see it all.

If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, do some research and write a list of the things you would like to see and do. From that list, narrow it down. Put a star next to the things on your list that you really want to see. The things that you don’t want to leave Japan without experiencing. Doing this will make it a lot easier to plan your time in such a large city, and you won’t leave with any regrets!

Russell and I had quite a long list of things we wanted to do and see. We knew that even though we had 12 days to explore the city, we still wouldn’t see it all. That’s okay, though. It just gives us an excuse to go back again one day!

Today I’m sharing with you the itinerary from our 12 days in Tokyo. We crammed a lot into a such a small amount of time, so our itinerary may not suit your style of travel. That being said, we did have a couple of rest days, where we didn’t catch any trains or travel too far. S0 hopefully our itinerary can bring some inspiration to anyone planning a trip to Tokyo!

12 Days in Tokyo – A Suggested Tokyo Itinerary

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

Day 1: Arriving in Tokyo from Nagano

Like our previous commutes between cities around Japan, we arrived in Tokyo on the Shinkansen Bullet Train. It took roughly 2 and a half hours to arrive at Shinjuku New City Hotel. This would be our home for the next 12 days! 

Shinjuku New City Hotel - Tokyo Accomodation Review

We arrived at our hotel in Shinjuku too early to be able to check in (Japan has a fairly strict check-in policy). But the cool thing about all of Japan’s hotels, is they will hold your luggage for free for as long as you need! So we dropped off our suitcases and headed down the street for some food.

After indulging in yet another McDonalds meal, it was almost 3pm – time to check in! I’ve written a review on Shinjuku New City Hotel.

If you’re interested in checking that out, click here.

We didn’t do a whole lot the day we arrived in Tokyo. It had been over a week since we were last able to do our washing, so that was priority for the afternoon. We loaded up a machine and walked to the Family Mart convenience store down the road to stock up on alcohol and snacks. #partyhard

Day 2: Harajuku + Shibuya Crossing

For our first full day in Tokyo, we decided to check out Harajuku and Shibuya! Harajuku is Tokyo’s teenage and tourist hub. The main attraction is Takeshita Street. If you’ve been to Osaka before, or have read my suggested itinerary, you would know about Dotonbori. Well Harajuku is Tokyo’s version of Dotonbori, but aimed more towards the younger generation. There’s a ton of cute shops, souvenir stores and fast food places to keep you entertained for hours.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

Harajuku is busy at the best of times. But I wouldn’t suggest visiting on a Saturday. Definitely a lot busier that during the week! Despite having to dodge selfie sticks and wind your way through the crowds, it’s still an awesome experience! I bought a hoodie and t-shirt with cats on them. Yeah, I’m that person. There’s a few second hand clothing stores too, where you’re bound to find some bargains. I found an 80’s style denim jacket, which turned out to be an amazing deal!

If you haven’t heard of Shibuya Crossing, it’s a super busy and well known scramble crossing in the Shibuya District. It’s the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, with hundreds if not thousands of people crossing to the other side, each time the lights turn green. If you want a better view of the scramble, head up to the Starbucks right next to the crossing. It’s the busiest Starbucks in the world, so you may have to push your way through for a good spot. But if you’re patient, you can get great pictures and footage of the scramble!

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

Another cool spot to visit while you’re in the area, is the Meiji Shrine. It was under construction the day we visited, so we didn’t get a great sighting of it. But the scenic walk up to the shrine itself is worth it.

Day 3: Akihabara + Shinjuku Batting Centre

Akihabara is the anime, video games and electronics hub of Tokyo. If you’re a fan of old school video consoles, or the endless amount of anime that Japan is known for, you’ll have a blast exploring Akihabara. Even if video games and anime aren’t your thing, there’s still plenty to see in the bright and colourful district. There’s also a ton of food options (even a Carl’s Jr!) so you won’t be limited for choice.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

After exploring Akihabara, we headed back to Shinjuku towards our hotel. The previous night, while making our list of things we still wanted to see and do in Tokyo, we came across Shinjuku Batting Centre. I have absolutely no coordination when it comes to sports. This is always an entertaining experience, so we decided to swing by (see what I did there?) the batting centre on our way back from Akihabara! It costs 300 yen for 28 balls, and you can stay for as many turns as you like. Just make sure you rotate, and let the people waiting behind you have their shot before you line up again!

Day 4: Rest, Relaxation and Epic Free Views! 

Russell and I stayed in Shinjuku for our 12 day visit to Tokyo, which put us fairly centrally located to a lot of the cool things to do in the city. Right across the road from our hotel, on the other side of Shinjuku Chuo Park, is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Both the Northern and Southern towers have FREE observatories at 202 metres (the towers reach a total of 243 metres!)

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

If you visit on a clear day, you’ll be able to see well known Tokyo attractions like Mt Fuji, Tokyo Dome and Tokyo Skytree. Each observatory has a cafe and souvenir shop, plus restrooms and seats if the amazing panoramic views are tiring you out (#strongsarcasm). Avoid waiting in line just before sunset, especially on the weekends, as the line for the elevator can be pretty long. Instead, head up earlier to guarantee an amazing view. Otherwise, head up once it’s dark – the lines will be a lot shorter!

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

The best part about this awesome building? You won’t have to pay a cent to visit the observatories.

Take the rest of the day to rest, relax and recharge. We didn’t do too much for the rest of the day, and it was a nice change from the hectic-ness of Tokyo!

Day 5: Tokyo Mega Pokemon Centre + Shopping

Like most of the world, I hopped on the Pokemon Go bandwagon when it was a huge craze. Also, like most of the world, I stopped playing after a month or so. Russell has been a lifelong Pokemon fan, so obviously the biggest Pokemon Centre in Japan had to be on our itinerary.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

The Pokemon Centre is located in Sunshine City shopping mall, where you’ll find a ton of cool things to do even if you’re not a Pokemon fan. No matter which Pokemon is your favourite, or what type of souvenir you hope to return home with, you won’t be disappointed. I don’t know much about the Pokemon world. All I know is Squirtle is my favourite, and Pikachu is yellow. But even I was impressed by the sheer size and awesomeness of the place.

You’ll find an endless amount of cool stuff to buy. From badges, Pokemon cards, backpacks, notebooks, stationery, clothes, socks, books, plastic and cuddly Pokeballs, stuffed Pokemon toys, to food and much more. I recommend setting aside at least a couple of hours to explore the Centre, especially if you’re a die hard fan. You’ll need as much time (and money) as possible!

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

Here’s all the important info about Mega Tokyo Pokemon Centre, like how to get there and when it’s open.

Day 6 and 7: Tokyo DisneySea + Tokyo Disneyland

While in Shibuya, Russell and I bought 2 day Tokyo Disney Park tickets at the Disney Store. I’ve written a whole post about both of the Disney parks in Tokyo. So click here to read all about our magical Disneyland experience! I’ve included a ton of super helpful tips on everything from food, ticket prices, fast passes, wait times and much more.

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea: What To Expect + Tips to Help You Plan Your Day!

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea: What To Expect + Tips to Help You Plan Your Day! Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea: What To Expect + Tips to Help You Plan Your Day!

Day 8: Odaiba

Odaiba is a popular entertainment and shopping district in Tokyo. It’s located on the man made island in Tokyo Bay, which is pretty cool if you ask me. There’s a suprrising amount of stuff to see and do in Odaiba, it just depends on what you’re into!

We originally planned our visit to see the giant Gundam robot outside of the DiverPlaza Tokyo Plaza shopping mall. But because we have such wonderful luck, it was taken down just before we arrived in Tokyo, to be replaced later this year. This was truly devastating, because I was excited to take a selfie with the giant robot I didn’t know anything about. Oh well. Next time.

There’s also a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty, plus a ton of shopping malls with various stores and restaurants. The 5th floor of the AquaCity mall, has a ramen food court. Yeah, that’s a thing. Our broke asses couldn’t afford to eat there. But still, that’s pretty damn cool.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

Top Tip: Hit up the Saizeriya Italian restaurant chain. Super, duper cheap food. 200 yen wine. Unlimited drink refills and a double mozzarella pizza for under 5 bucks. Yes please. This was definitely our go-to place for a cheap feed.

Day 9: Tokyo Giants Baseball Game, Golden Gai + Kabuchiko

As soon as we discovered there was a Tokyo Giants home game scheduled during our stay in Tokyo, purchasing tickets was a priority. You can get tickets to sporting games online or at some convenience stores, but we decided to take the train to Tokyo Dome itself! Right next to the Dome is Tokyo Dome City, which is an epic theme park. So if you’re keen on hitting up a baseball game while in Tokyo, I recommend buying the tickets from Tokyo Dome a few days beforehand. Then you can spend the rest of the day riding rollercoasters and eating lots of delicious food that’s really bad for you! #eatyourveggiestookids

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

In true Rhiannon fashion, I decided I wanted to get drunk before heading to the game. So after I smashed out half a bottle of wine in under 10 minutes (drinking straight from the bottle after my second glass, to save time), we headed to the train station! Let me tell ya, drunkenly catching a super packed train in the busiest city in Japan is quite an experience.

The Giants game was a lot of fun. The atmosphere at a Japanese baseball game is something I’ve never experienced before. The fans of the away team get super into it, and almost every single one of them stand up and sing, dance and even jump up and down in support of their team. Literally.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

The food is average, nothing super crazy or different – except the bento boxes! You won’t find those at any baseball games around the world! Food prices aren’t great, but that’s to be expected. I suggest bringing in your own food and water. Especially water. We didn’t think to do this, and ended up spending 400 yen on two of those little tiny bottles of water you get on planes. Ripped. Off.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

If you’ve got a spare day in Tokyo, and want to experience Japan’s sporting scene, definitely buy tickets to a baseball game. For info on how to get to Tokyo Dome (and Tokyo Dome City), click here!

After the baseball we headed back to the hotel, drank some more alcohol and ate some food. Then we headed out to experience Tokyo’s night life.

The Robot Restaurant in Kabuchiko was on our list of things to do. However, due to the flashing  colourful robot experience costing a devastating $80, we settled for a photo of the sign outside instead. But if you aren’t broke and want to be apart of something that will literally blow your mind, definitely hit up the Robot Restaurant.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

Golden Gai is Shinjuku’s well known street of super small bars. To be honest though, they look more like household kitchens. Most of the bars cost 1,000 yen to even walk through the door. Not to mention the 500 yen or higher drink prices. So naturally, we didn’t actually go into any of the bars.The street itself was fairly disappointing, especially after all the rave reviews we heard about the place. But I guess if you’ve got some money to blow, the experience itself would be pretty cool. Instead, we bought cheap booze from convenience stores and wandered the streets of Shinjuku’s Red Light District.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

Day 10 and 11: Explore Shinjuku

It was bound to happen – crappy weather. Almost 48 hours of non stop rain. Super inconvenient, but since we didn’t want to waste our last few days in Japan, we headed out and explored Shinjuku. There’s a ton of shopping complexes in Shinjuku, so you definitely won’t run out of options when it comes to shopping up a storm in Tokyo.

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

If you’re at the end of your time in Tokyo, I suggest simply exploring. Whether that’s shopping, wandering the streets or visiting some shrines, take a day to relax and appreciate the wonder that Tokyo has to offer. There’s no denying that Tokyo is the busiest city in the world, but it doesn’t have to feel like that the whole time!

 

Day 12: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden + Packing

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience

This was our last day in Japan. It was a nice sunny day, so we took advantage of that and walked to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. For 200 yen, you get entry and access to the beautiful and relaxing park. There’s a ton of places to have a picnic with family, or simply walk the paths and enjoy the serenity.

We visited at the beginning of spring, so Cherry Blossoms were blooming and petals were starting to fall. Every man and his dog was snapping away on their cameras. It’s a cool sight, seeing so many people standing less than a centimetre from a single blossom petal, taking photos from dozens of different angles. But a couple photos while walking through the crowd was good enough for me! (I did take the opportunity for a close up when I came across an unpopular blossom tree, though).

12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience 12 Day Guide to Exploring Tokyo: A Tokyo Itinerary For a Memorable Experience


So there you have it. A suggested itinerary for the biggest, busiest and craziest city in the world – Tokyo, Japan! Like I said, you’ll need a lot more than 12 days. 12 years isn’t enough to explore the entire city. But this is a good start! Whatever you do, definitely don’t skip the Disney Parks!

Have you been to Tokyo before? What was your favourite part? Tell me in the comments below!
I’m also happy to answer as many questions that you have, so if I’ve missed anything, ask me below!

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55 Comments

  1. April 15, 2017 / 3:42 pm

    I want to go there now! Very useful post!

  2. April 15, 2017 / 4:59 pm

    What a great guide – sounds like there is so much to do! I’m hoping to visit next year so will definitely be using some of your tips.

  3. April 15, 2017 / 5:41 pm

    Fab itinerary – had totally the same experience with checking in early not being a thing everywhere in Japan! Your 12 days in Tokyo sounds like it was epic, I want to go back already 🙂

    • April 15, 2017 / 7:26 pm

      Thanks! It’s so strange, but I guess understandable in certain circumstances! 🙂
      It’s an amazing country, that’s for sure.

  4. Julianna
    April 15, 2017 / 7:06 pm

    What a cool post – looks like you certainly had fun and so many cool hints and tips. Haven’t been to Tokyo yet but it’s high on the list. Have wanted to go to Akihabara since I was a kid. PS strong work with the wine before the game, lol.

    • April 15, 2017 / 7:25 pm

      Tokyo is definitely a must see while in Japan! Akihabara is cool, just bring lots of money cos you’ll wanna buy everything! haha.
      Haha, yeah. Budget drinking means getting drunk in the hotel room every single day lol

  5. April 15, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    Loved this! Have always wanted to go to Tokyo! <3 Side question though: what do you use to put the text over your photos? Thanks 🙂

    • April 15, 2017 / 8:01 pm

      Thanks! You definitely should 😀
      I use the website Canva! It’s free (I do use the premium version though) and there’s a ton of designs and stock photos you can use 😀

  6. April 15, 2017 / 7:47 pm

    Such a great and comprehensive itinerary. Congratulations and well done 😊 next time I must do the Shibuya crossing (just never enough time!) Cheers.

    • April 15, 2017 / 8:00 pm

      Thank you! Shibuya Crossing was super cool! It’s apparently better at night time, we didn’t get a chance to go back though! That’s true, definitely not enough time to explore Tokyo!

    • April 15, 2017 / 7:59 pm

      I’m glad! You definitely should, it’s amazing 😀

  7. April 15, 2017 / 7:54 pm

    Ah this is a great post. I am all about the free views! So many people though. Been living in such an isolated state lately, I think I would need to ease myself into the city with all those people around!

    • April 15, 2017 / 7:58 pm

      The free views are epic! And yep, tons and tons of people. It’s pretty overwhelming. I visited Japan after living in a desert town in Australia for 5 months, so it was a shock! haha

  8. April 15, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    Oh awesome, I would love to visit Tokyo one day so bookmarking this post. Thank you!

  9. April 15, 2017 / 8:13 pm

    This is a great guide to Tokyo! I wouldn’t even know where to begin! We hope to go one day! Pinned and followed on all media! 🙂 #blogpostsaturday

    • April 15, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      Thank you! Tokyo’s a huge place, definitely hard to decide where to start haha! #blogpostsaturdayfam 😀
      Thanks so much for the follows, I’ll return the favour! 😀

  10. Hannah
    April 15, 2017 / 8:15 pm

    This is so amazing! Japan has been on my list for ages and I’d love to go to Tokyo. And I won’t lie, Disneyland and Disney Sea are top of my list!

    • April 15, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      If you ever visit Japan, even if you’re not staying in Tokyo, definitely hit up the Disney Parks! If I could suggest one park, it would be DisneySea. Super awesome place! 😀

  11. April 15, 2017 / 8:16 pm

    thanks for the tips! I actually have only 4 days in Tokyo so hopefully will manage to see what I like: harajuku is on the top of my list and also everything pokemon and sailor moon related 😀 I love your posts, I feel really prepared now for my trip =)

  12. April 15, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    Wow, I did not know there was this much to see in Tokyo. How lovely would it be to stay a whole 12 days in this beautiful city. One day…:)

  13. April 15, 2017 / 9:50 pm

    Wow what an amazing itinerary! Ive never been interested in tokyo but this has changed my mind! Lovely pictures!

    • April 16, 2017 / 8:25 am

      It’s super busy and there’s a ton of tourists, but it’s still a must see in my opinion!
      Thank you! 😀

  14. April 15, 2017 / 11:33 pm

    Great post, thank you for sharing! Loved the colourful streets of Tokyo, and those pink cherry blossoms are so pretty!

    • April 16, 2017 / 8:24 am

      Thank you! The colourful streets are awesome! And yeah, I’m super glad I got to see cherry blossoms, they’re beautiful!

  15. April 16, 2017 / 1:11 am

    Wow! Tokyo looks super busy. But one thing i didn’t expect to see in this post is the Statue of Liberty 😀

    • April 16, 2017 / 8:23 am

      It definitely is super busy! Yep, was odd seeing the Statue of Liberty haha.

  16. April 16, 2017 / 7:00 am

    A few years back If you had asked me if I wanted to go to Japan my answer would have been maybe someday! Lately I have seen so much great info about it that my mind has changed. It is moving towards the top of my list. Great info about Tokyo. Clearly it needs more than 3-4 days to even scratch the surface.

    • April 16, 2017 / 8:23 am

      I was the same! I hadn’t really considered Japan until my partner suggested it and we started planning our trip! I hope you get there one day, it’s an amazing country 😀

  17. April 16, 2017 / 11:29 am

    I didn’t realise how many awesome things were were to do in Tokyo! All of those billboards are full on though.

  18. Helen
    April 16, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Epic and super-useful post! I’m hoping to go to Japan for a big birthday next year so will definitely be saving this for later. Loving all the drinking tips 🙂

    • April 16, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      Yay I’m glad you liked it! Oh that’s heaps exciting, I hope you make it there! Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂
      Haha, I do enjoy a glass or two of wine ;D

  19. April 16, 2017 / 9:23 pm

    Tokyo is pretty amazing but there is no way I could spend 12 days there – way too many people! You can also dress up as Mario and Go Kart around the city which is an absolutely AWESOME thing to do! I think it is like $60USD!

    • April 17, 2017 / 1:54 pm

      It was a long time to stay in such a busy city, but super glad we did! YES! Saw that heaps of times, didn’t get around to checking it out though. Next time 😀

  20. April 17, 2017 / 12:20 am

    Tokyo has always been on my list and your post is making me want to go even more! I’m also a huge Pokémon nerd so yes please on the massive store!! 😊

    • April 17, 2017 / 1:55 pm

      If you’re a Pokemon fan you’ll LOVE Japan in general. Pokemon everywhere! Haha. Some of the restaurants and stores even have ‘Pokestops’ signs haha.

  21. April 17, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    What a comprehensive guide, I absolutely love this! Makes me Tokyo so much. I probably will have to head back, I feel liked I missed so much there after reading some of your recs. I wish I checked out the Northern and Southern towers!

    • April 17, 2017 / 1:56 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s so easy to miss stuff! I’m sure we missed sooooo much, but there’s no way to see everything, unfortunately!
      Our hotel was right across the road from the free observation towers, otherwise we might have missed them too!

  22. April 17, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    This looks like so much fun! I’ve never been to Japan but always wanted to go since I studied Japanese in highschool. Not that I remember anything, but it just looks so different and amazing!

    • April 18, 2017 / 10:06 am

      Japanese is such an interesting language! So many people I know studied it in high school!
      It’s an amazing country, I hope you get there one day 😀

  23. April 17, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    I will keep this in mind for when I visit Japan. Great post!

    • April 18, 2017 / 10:05 am

      Thank you! Hope you love Japan as much as I did! 😀

  24. April 18, 2017 / 8:37 am

    I miss Tokyo! I have been there several time and never get sick of it!

  25. April 18, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Thank you for this detailed post! Tokyo is so high on my travel list! And going to the Disneyland there looks amazing! Thank you so much for this post

    • April 18, 2017 / 10:24 am

      I’m so glad you liked it! Disneyland and DisneySea are both amazing, definitely worth a visit! 😀

  26. April 18, 2017 / 1:52 pm

    My boyfriend and I plan to visit Japan sometime, this is very helpful. Though we do have several things that are part of our primary reason for visiting mostly being the Mazda and Toyota museums, this was great for more ideas.

  27. Eulanda Shead
    April 19, 2017 / 3:10 am

    Tokyo is on our travel wishlist, so we’re definitely pinning this for future travel planning. Your trip sounds like so much fun, and not enough time to see it all! Thanks for the great tips!

  28. April 22, 2017 / 3:13 am

    Wow! Tokyo looks awesome. Definitely pinning this for when I get to this part of the world. Looks like you could easily fill a couple of weeks with things to do. Thanks for the ideas!

    • April 22, 2017 / 11:00 am

      You definitely can fill multiple weeks exploring Tokyo! It’s a crazy but wonderful city 🙂

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