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New J-drama ‘Kol Kimono’: Brought to you from…Thailand!

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Elegant kimono, cascading wisteria blossoms and the stunning scenery of Kyushu, Japan’s most southwesterly island. If this sounds like an archetypal scene from the land of the rising sun, you’d be half right – new dramaKol Kimono, which hits TV screens in December, is definitely set in Japan. But you won’t find it broadcast there just yet – only in Thailand!

In Thailand, interest in Japanese culture is at an all-time high. Thanks in part to relaxed visa regulations, the number of Thai visitors to Japan has doubled in the last three years. The new primetime drama, which started filming on location in Kyushu last week, also stars Thongchai “Bird” McIntyre, one of Thailand’s biggest names, in his first leading role in 17 years.

 

▼ Thongchai McIntyre, king of Thai pop.

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Entitled Kol Kimono, the 24-part drama is described as a romance with fantasy elements. As you might expect from a plot described as “a cross between Romeo and Juliet and tanabata [a Japanese festival held in July, which has its origins in a story of star-crossed lovers]”, the story revolves around two feuding families.

BEC Group, Thailand’s biggest TV broadcasting company, says the show will be “the highest-class drama in Thai history”. They certainly seem to be pulling out all the stops, with an unprecedented high budget for a drama, and 80 percent of the filming taking place in Kyushu, Japan. Hoping that tourists are inspired to visit the locations shown in the drama will be business-owners in Imari, Ureshino and Takeo cities in Saga Prefecture, which are said to have been used for key scenes.

 

▼ Lead character Hoshi’s name even means “star” in Japanese. Because they’re star-crossed lovers, right?

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To coincide with the show’s first broadcast in December this year, events in Bangkok are being planned, including a kimono fashion show and the opportunity for visitors to try on kimono. There’s no news yet of an international release date, but we’re certainly intrigued by this new drama’s concept and set-up. It’s been given a Japanese title, too (Kimono Hiden, meaning “kimono mystery” or “secrets of kimono”), so we’re looking forward to finding out what Japan makes of its depiction in a Thai drama!

 

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The cast and crew are in Japan from May 14 for the start of filming, as well as for press conferences and some slightly less conventional events, including “praying for the show to be a hit”

 

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New J-drama ‘Kol Kimono’: Brought to you from…Thailand!

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Artist Profile: “The rabbit ears” by Dilok Lak

 

Ignant:

Bangkok-based illustrator and graphic designer Dilok Lak created the series ‘The rabbit ears’ when felt a little stressed out from his everyday job. He wanted to do something fresh, naive, and playful. So he looked back to kid’s tales where he found talking animals and weird characters that he re-imagined for his reduced drawings.

He puts them in a clear, pink background so that they appear out of their usual context as if they were visitors from another world.

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All images © Dilok Lak

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Interior Design: Garage of the Bears by Openbox Architects

 

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Graphic Designer Pum Lefebure: Insider’s Guide to Bangkok

 

Audrey Magazine: 
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Pum Lefebure, graphic designer and co-founder of award-winning design agency Design Army, was born and raised in Thailand. So though she now lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and 8-year-old daughter Sophie, she goes back to visit her homeland every winter. The itinerary? Bangkok, of course, where her family lives.

I like to spend an evening with my mom in our home and talk until 3 in morning,” says the 38-year-old. “We might have a Thai beer called Singha along with some mango and sweet sticky rice and catch up.”

She also heads to the beach town of Krabi in southern Thailand, where it’s a perfect 75 to 80 degrees in the dead of winter. “I love being in the ocean and on the beach at Krabi, one of the most beautiful places in the world,” says Lefebure. “It brings me back to my childhood days, especially as I watch Sophie enjoying the sand.”

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Here, Lefebure gives us an insider’s look into what to do and see in Bangkok:

* Must Visit: The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s riverside terrace. To be outdoors on the Chao Phraya River in December is pretty special. The service is incredible, the atmosphere is beautiful, and the Bamboo Bar is a great place to hang out and listen to jazz music.

* Must Buy: I love to shop for jewelry in Peninsula Plaza, where local Thai artists sell jewelry that’s beautiful and inexpensive. At Mungkara Jewelry, I’ve purchased unique pieces with amethyst, rubies and emeralds and lots of bracelets. And though I bring all my beauty products with me, I do buy the local Thai shampoo since it’s made for Asian hair.

The Chatuchak Weekend Market, also known as Jatujak Market, is one of the world’s largest markets. It’s famous for antiques, clothes, food, furniture, plants, pets and more. Everyone has a shop there. It’s easy to get to by BTS, Thailand’s Metro system. My advice is to wear light clothes and drink a lot of water — it’s hot in there.

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* Must Eat: We plan to try La Table de Tee, a new foodie place recommended by a friend. It’s Bangkok’s first “Chef’s Table,” where Chef Tee Kachonklin creates a daily changing tasting menu.

* Must Do: I must go to Wat Pho, home to the reclining Buddha, for a two-hour Thai massage at least twice. An hour-long, deep tissue massage is not even $10, and it’s the real deal. I’m sore for a few days afterwards, but it feels so good, and I return to the U.S. refreshed.

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For a more high-end experience, try the Oriental Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. It’s located across the river from the hotel, and they have a boat service to take you there.

* Best Local Hole-in-the-Wall: Khao San Road is a famous backpacker street where you can find authentic Thai food that’s inexpensive. It’s a perfect street for travelers to experience the food and feel of Thailand, and the locals make communication easy there.

* Best Lunch Spot: Greyhound Café is a great place to pop in and eat. It’s a mix of Thai and Western food. Each location has a different décor and artist’s work on display. I like the Thai noodle dishes and Sophie can still have a sandwich. You can get spaghetti with Thai anchovies, for example — very creative food. The owner used to be a creative director at an ad agency so everything about it is very design savvy.

* Best Tourist Attractions: Grand Palace is the symbol of Thailand — you have to see it when visiting Thailand.

Also Amphawa with its floating market is really popular. All food is brought in by boats. It’s a great place to hang out and experience Thai culture. You can also find a lot of homestays, the name they use for the “hotels” along the river because you feel like you’re staying at someone’s home.

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* Best Nightlife: The Vertigo restaurant and Moon Bar at the top of Banyan Tree Bangkok have spectacular views. I also like Patravadi Theatre. This cozy little theater on the Thonburi side of the river is a great spot to catch a performance of traditional Thai dance, or even a modern dance troupe, while enjoying some delicious Thai dishes, though it’s limited to weekends only.

See more of Pum Lefebure’s photos at Instagram.com/pumlefebure

Pum Lefebure photo by Dean Alexander; other photos courtesy of Pum Lefebure.

This story was originally printed in Audrey’s Winter 2013-14 issue. Get it here!

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Graphic Designer Pum Lefebure: Insider’s Guide to Bangkok

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11 Rooftop bars in Asia for the perfect midnight rendezvous abroad

 

1. 1-Altitude; Singapore, Singapore

1-Altitude; Singapore, Singapore

This 3 level bar and restaurant is noted to be the world’s highest al fresco rooftop bar to date! This classy and chic bar will give you the best 360 view of the Singapore skyline.

Vibe: Sophisticated romantic, clubbing/party atmosphere, smart casual
FYI: Every Wednesday becomes LADIES NIGHT! This mean free cover charge and a drink on the house for all the ladies!

2. Roku Nana; Tokyo, Japan

Roku Nana; Tokyo, Japan

A true hidden gem in the city of Tokyo, Roku Nana is a secret, modern rooftop bar with a futuristic vibe. If you’re lucky enough to find this place, don’t just come here for a romantic view of the city, come here to check out the hipster-tastic decor!

Vibe: Inconspicuously romantic
FYI: This place is so secret that it’s almost impossible to find! No advertisements or signs will help direct you here. Thus, it’s probably best to call the bar for directions.

3. Sugar; Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Sugar; Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

Located atop Hong Kong’s East Hotel (near Tai Koo), Sugar provides a different perspective of HK nightlife. Feast your eyes on the lovely harbor and view of East Kowloon in this calm and relaxing lounge.

Vibe: Relaxing and chill, simplistically trendy
FYI: Reviews suggest to head to Sugar prior to sunset to get the best experience of the view.

4. X-Bar; Siem Reap, Cambodia

X-Bar; Siem Reap, Cambodia

With live rock band and DJ performances, billiards, darts, food, drinks, plus a half pipe on the roof, this bar literally screams sports bar heaven!

Vibe: Punk rocker chic, new twist to a typical sports bar
FYI: Don’t forget your skateboard if you wanna try that rooftop half pipe!!

5. Migas; Beijing, China

Migas; Beijing, China

The new “IT” spot for all twenty-something-year-olds in Beijing. Although slightly pricey, this trendy rooftop bar pumps up a funky and retro feel to dance the night away!

Vibe: Hipster chic, futuristic yet retro
FYI: Spanish inspired restaurant and lounge. Known for its soul, house, funk, and disco spins!

6. Red Sky Bistro & Bar; Bangkok, Thailand

Red Sky Bistro & Bar; Bangkok, Thailand

Taking over the 55th floor of Centara Grand Hotel, this bistro and bar is known for its delicious meals and wide selection of the world’s finest wines.

Vibe: Urban chic, dinner-and-drinks-after kind of place
FYI: Be sure to check out the long bar located at the edge of this rooftop bistro. Reviews say they serve some of the most unique martinis!

7. RufXXX; Seoul, South Korea

RufXXX; Seoul, South Korea

This two story venue is the perfect location for indie heads. The first floor is comprised of various alternative artists while the second deck is a stand-only area where you’ll find an amazing view of the Itaewon hills and Namsan Tower.

Vibe: Alternative/Indie, quirky atmosphere, the real definition of hipster
FYI: You may get wigged out by some of the unusual performers, but the view itself will definitely be worth the visit.

8. Two Rooms; Tokyo, Japan

Two Rooms; Tokyo, Japan

Unlike Roku Nana, Two Rooms in Tokyo is not a secret. Enjoy cocktails and a view of Tokyo from 11:30am-2am every Monday thru Saturday!

Vibe: Calm, relaxing, Sunday brunch atmosphere
FYI: They serve many unique in-house cocktails such as vodka oyster shots! Vodka and oysters? I’m not sure how I feel about that either! LOL.

9. Sevva; Central, Hong Kong

Sevva; Central, Hong Kong

Sevva is a fine dine restaurant with exquisite decor catering to the theme of each various rooms they have to offer. With an impeccable view of the neon lights HK has to offer, the terrace at Sevva is a must see.

Vibe: Fun, eccentric, and exquisite
FYI: Don’t forget to also check out the Taste Bar for some scrumptious looking appetizers and the unique desserts of Ms. B’s Cakery.

10. Flair; Shanghai, China

Flair; Shanghai, China

This double-decker lounge is no joke. Equipped with a killer view of the Pearl Tower and Shanghai city, Flair is applauded for its expensive and luxurious style.

Vibe: Rustic, reminiscent feel of having brunch on the Upper East Side
FYI: Be ready to shell out some bills. The prices are quite high, but experts say you’ll definitely want a glass of champagne in your hand to experience this lovely outlook.

11. Ku Dé Ta; Singapore, Singapore

Ku Dé Ta; Singapore, Singapore

If you’re looking for another view of Singapore with perhaps a less club-bey, but more elegant and romantic atmosphere, then check out Ku Dé Ta. Located in the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, this rooftop bar and lounge is every couples dream of sophistication and romance.

Vibe: Just plain and simple romantic
FYI: Various events are held throughout the year with a wide variety of DJs. Sundays include DJ entertainment, dance grooves, and barbecues.

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11 Rooftop bars in Asia for the perfect midnight rendezvous abroad

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Bangkok mall is Instagram’s most photographed place in 2013

 

Thanks to Thailand's snap-happy Instagrammers, one Bangkok mall is Instagram's most photographed place in 2013

This Instagram photo by @yoyossavadee was taken at the world’s most Instagrammed location – a Bangkok mall.

There are about 1.4 million Instagram users in Thailand, and they are the world’s most snap-happy Instagrammers. Instagram has just revealed its top 10 most photographed locations in 2013, and the number one and number nine slots are places in Bangkok.

Instagram says that the most snapped place in the world on its social network is the Siam Paragon mall. Number nine is Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. All the other photogenic locations in the top 10 are in the US.

When it comes to the most-Instagrammed cities of 2013, New York actually takes the top spot, but Bangkok is a close second. The rest of the top 10 are cities in the US, the UK, Brazil, or Russia. 60 percent of Instagrammers are now sharing photos and videos from outside of the United States, the company notes today.

This definitely isn’t a first for Thailand’s enthusiastic Instagrammers. In 2011, three locations in Bangkok made up the top 15 most snapped places, and two were on the list last year.

Thailand’s top Instagram user is @aum_patchrapa – aka the actress Patchrapa Chaichua – who has 1,843,656 followers right now.

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Bangkok mall is Instagram’s most photographed place in 2013

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Bangkok street food: Historic Bang Rak’s 10 best eats

The area formerly known as Bang Rak market should not be left off any food lover’s Bangkok travel itinerary.

The easily walkable stretch between Taksin BTS station and the junction of Charoen Krung and Silom Road is a cultural mash-up rife with history that’s worth exploring on foot.

It’s also home to several great food shops and stalls run by second- or third-generation cooks who are proud of their culinary heritage.

Thip Hoi Thot Phu-khao Fai

Thip Hoi Thot Phu-khao Fai

A plate of Thip Hoi Thot Phu-khao Fai’s mussel/oyster pancakes, which have the perfect gooey to crispy ratio.This maker of crispy mussel/oyster pancakes is one of the best in the city.

According to co-owner Chakrawat Chira-apakul, the shop got its odd moniker (the name means “volcanic fried mussels”) when it was a just a humble outdoor stall. A diesel stove the owner used often caused flame flare-ups dramatic enough to attract the attention of foreign tourists. The restaurant has been dubbed “volcanic fried mussels” ever since.

Having moved indoors and using a tamer gas stove these days, Thip no longer pulls pyrotechnic stunts, but his place remains much loved by locals and visitors.

Served atop a bed of bean sprouts wilted to tender-crisp and accompanied by sweet and sour chili sauce, the flat cakes of battered, pan-fried fresh mussels, attain a hard-to-achieve ratio of gooey to crispy perfection.

Thip Hoi Thot Phu-khao Fai (Volcanic Fried Mussel and Oyster), 3 Soi Charoen Krung 50 (next to Robinson Bang Rak). +66 (0)89 775 1958. Open Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

 

Prachak Pet Yang

No seasoning necessary. Prachak Pet Yang’s duck is just that good.

Two Chinese-style roasted duck restaurants vie for supremacy in this neighborhood: Pet Yang Nai Sung and Prachak Pet Yang. Both are long renowned for their roasted ducks with dark, spiced sauce over rice (khao na pet). We, however, are a little partial to the century-old Prachak.

Here, you see the fusion of Thai and Chinese flavors at its best. Gutted Cherry Valley ducks are stuffed with fresh Thai herbs, such as kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass, before being marinated in Cantonese flavors and slow-roasted in a mangrove wood coal oven until the skins take on deep mahogany color and the meat becomes succulent and tender.

Their sauce, served generously over a mound of duck-topped rice, is so flavorful that the seasoning caddy on the table pouts furiously from neglect.

Prachak also serves various other dishes including Chinese barbecue pork, roasted pork, assorted noodle dishes and fried rice.

Prachak Pet Yang, Charoen Krung Road (across from Robinson Bang Rak). +66 (0)2 234 3755. Open daily from 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Jok Prince

Nothing to joke about here. Jok Prince’s congee is among Bangkok’s best.

Don’t be scared by its location in a dark, narrow alley leading to Prince, a now-defunct small theater that used to show dodgy movies. Jok Prince has served up the best rice congee with all the trimmings in this area for over 50 years. Viscous, semi-smooth jok comes with tender, generously sized balls of minced pork.

Offal lovers can ask for assorted stewed and poached pig parts in their jok too, as this place is the best.

A side of Chinese crullers, pa thong ko, are also available at an additional cost.

Jok Prince, Charoen Krung Road, entrance to Prince Theater. +66 (0)89 795 2629. Open from 6 a.m.-noon and 4 p.m. to the early morning hours. (Closing times depend on availability and change from day to day.)

 

Boonsap Thai Desserts

The quintessential Thai dessert: mango and sticky rice.

Here’s another shop with a long history. Boonsap, the only noteworthy traditional Thai dessert shop in this area, has been making sweets according to its founder’s original recipes since before World War II.

Under the management of the young third-generation owners, the shop has recently undergone  renovations, making it resemble an intimate café where patrons can enjoy plated desserts and beverages in an air-conditioned room.

Modernization has not, however, changed things. Tatcha Boonpaisarn, who left her flight attendant career to make desserts, insists everything is still made in-house with carefully-sourced ingredients, and in small batches — just as it was back in the days of her Grandma Boonsap.

Boonsap Thai Desserts excels in many traditional Thai goodies, but their sweet sticky rice topped with impossibly smooth and creamy steamed egg custard (sangkhaya) is simply extraordinary.

Boonsap Thai Desserts (boonsap.com), 1478 Charoen Krung Road. +66 (0)2 234 4086. Open Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

 

Khao Kha Mu Trok Sung

Kamou Tokzung has been serving up stewed pork legs and knuckles for over 40 years.

You need to deviate for a few meters from Charoen Krung into Charoen Wiang in order to find this nondescript home of what the locals consider one the best stewed pork legs and knuckles on rice (khao kha mu) in the area for the last four decades.

They also have storefronts at MBK and Central World food courts; just look for the “Kamou Tokzung” sign.

Kamou Tokzung, 106/5 Charoen Wiang Road. +66 (0)2 235 4930. Open Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

 

Jao Long Luk Chin Pla

Jao Long Luk Chin Pla’s fish balls are made with fresh halibut.

Next to a bright red pawn shop a few doors down from the Charoen Krung entrance to the Shangri-La hotel is this shop renowned for superior fishball noodles.

There is another fishball noodle shop right across the street, but we favor Jao Long’s homemade fishballs, heavy on fresh halibut meat, which come in various shapes and avatars: round, rugby-shaped, poached, deep-fried.

Joa Long, 1456 Charoen Krung Road, near entrance of Shangri-La hotel. +66 (0)2 630 6060. Open daily from 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

 

Nam Khom Wa Tow

Chinese-style herbal drinks are healthy. But don’t let that turn you off. They’re refreshing, too.

For the uninitiated, the appeal of various Chinese-style herbal drinks, may not be immediately apparent.

Fans who believe in the medicinal properties of the surprisingly delicious and refreshing drinks, on the other hand, flock to this 70-year-old shop for their Gotu Kola (bai bua bok) juice among other things.

Incidentally, this shop is also the birthplace of the famous Yan Wo Yun brand of seasoning sauces, internationally known as the Healthy Boy brand.

Wa Tow – Yan Wo Yun, 1443 Charoen Krung Road. +66 (0)2 233 9266. Open daily, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

 

Fried Banana Cart

When you see a line of people at a Bangkok vendor, join the queue. Delicious eats are guaranteed.

You can’t miss this food cart located right at the corner of Charoen Krung and Si Wiang. People line up the moment the first batch of batter-fried bananas hits the oil until everything runs out.

You can see how fresh bananas, sweet potatoes, and taro roots are feverishly peeled, sliced, and fried to keep up with the demands.

Fried banana cart, corner of Charoen Krung and Si Wiang. Open daily mid-morning to late afternoon.

 

Je Niao Boi Kia

Tired of pie? Try one of Je Niao Boi Kia’s Hainanese-style desserts.

In a spacious shophouse also at the corner of Charoen Krung and Si Wiang, steps away from the fried banana cart, is Je Niao’s Hainanese-style multi-element dessert.

This dish features oblong chewy rice flour dumplings and anything from cooked grains and beans to candied tubers and fresh fruits in dark syrup and topped with crushed ice.

Je Niao Boi Kia, SE corner of Charoen Krung Road and Si Wiang Road. +66 (0)89 774 9144. Open daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

 

Muslim Restaurant

Fill your goat cravings at Muslim Restaurant, a 70-year-old Bangkok institution.

Founded by Hajee Maidin Pakayawong, a well-known Bang Rak market goat butcher, as the culinary outlet for his fresh goat meat, this 70-year-old eatery still serves up exactly the same menu it did back in World War II era.

Considering its genesis, it’s no surprise one of Muslim Restaurant’s best-loved dishes is goat biryani. Their oxtail soup, goat liver masala and murtabak (mataba) are also perfectly executed.

Muslim Restaurant, 1354-6, corner of Charoen Krung and Silom. +66 (0)2 234 1876. Open daily from 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

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Bangkok street food: Historic Bang Rak’s 10 best eats

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25 Beautifully Cluttered Cityscapes In Asia

1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

2. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

3. Seoul, Korea

Seoul, Korea

4. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

5. Seoul, Korea

Seoul, Korea

6. Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

7. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

8. Jeju, Korea

Jeju, Korea

9. Ghorka, Nepal

Ghorka, Nepal

10. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

11. Hong Kong

Hong Kong

12. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

13. Zhejiang, China

Zhejiang, China

14. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

15. Chongqing, China

Chongqing, China

16. Fenghuang, China

Fenghuang, China

17. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

18. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

19. Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

20. Ura-Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Ura-Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

21. Beijing, China

Beijing, China

22. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

23. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

24. Jiufen, Taiwan

Jiufen, Taiwan

25. Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan
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