Are you heading off to Japan? Wow, lucky you. First of all, I’m super excited for you and secondly, definitely jealous too!

Japan is a magical country steeped in history, natural beauty, and a truly amazing culture. It is truly one of the most unique countries in the world and is on pretty much every travelers bucket list.

Japan really has something for everyone, from stunning natural phenomenons like Mount Fuji to the most futuristic city in the world (Tokyo) Japan really has almost too much to explore! Oh, I havent even mentioned that Japan has some of the best food in the world too, gosh.

With all this, I bet you haven’t yet decided where in Japan to go and stay. Well, I’m here to help. I’m going to cover all the top places to stay in Japan and what staying in Japan is really like.

Keep reading friends – lets get into this.

Girl smiles for photo in front of Mt. Fuji Japan on Lake Kawaguchiko.
Get ready for some magic.
Photo: @audyscala

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Quick Answers: Where is the Best Place to Stay in Japan?

  • Kyoto– Overall Best Place to Stay in Japan
  • Nara – Best Place to Stay in Japan For Families 
  • Hakone – Most Romantic Place to Stay in Japan 
  • Tokyo – Coolest Place to Stay in Japan
  • Kamakura – Where to Stay in Japan on a Budget
  • Miyajima – One of the Most Unique Places to Stay in Japan
  • Hokkaido – Where to Stay in Japan for Adventure 
  • Fuji Five Lakes – Where to Stay in Japan to See Mount Fuji and Nature

Map of Where to Stay in Japan

Map of Where to Stay in Japan
1.Kyoto, 2.Nara, 3.Hakone, 4.Tokyo, 5.Kamakura, 6.Miyajima, 7.Hokkaido, 8.Fuji Five Lakes (Locations in no particular order)

Kyoto – Overall Best Place to Stay in Japan

Kyoto is the historical and cultural center of Japan. It is where you will find most of the most famous sites in all of Japan. A trip to Japan isn’t complete without wandering around the famous sites of Kyoto and checking these fabulous sites off your bucket list. And you’ll find everything from Kyoto hostels to fancy hotels throughout the city.

Guy does handstand under shrine in Kyoto, Japan.
Center of cultural handstands.
Photo: @audyscala

Kyoto is the best city in Japan to visit. It’s best to rent a bicycle so you can easily get to all the sites but public transportation is also amazing. Make sure you spend quality time at the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and at the lovely gardens at the Okochi Sanso. Those are located in the West part of the city in the Arashiyama district.

Then head off to Northern Higashiyama to the Nansen-ji temple with an incredible zen rock garden with great views! Southern Higashiyama offers one of Kyoto’s most famous landmarks— Kiyomizu-dera. Make sure you go early in the day though as it can get super busy.

Alright, I could go on and on about the pilgrimage site of Chion-in or the golden pavilion at Kinkaku-ji, or the Gion Geisha district, or the Nishiki Market, but it’s time for us to go over the lodging in Japan, Kyoto options.

Best Places to Stay in Kyoto

Choosing where to stay in Kyoto can feel overwhelming. The city is is packed with incredible neighborhoods and districts. You can’t go wrong with your choice of staying in Northern Kyoto or Southern, or anywhere in between. When visiting Kyoto, you won’t be short of quality places to stay.

Super Hotel Kyoto Shijokawaramachi | Best Hotel in Kyoto

Super Hotel Kyoto Shijokawaramachi is located in the Nakagyo Ward district, and is a great location if you’re on a food or shopping trip! It’s close to a bus stop, a train station and the free buffet breakfast is absolutely delicious. While rooms are small, the location is fantastic and the rooms are pristine clean. Being just a five-minute walk from the Nishiki Market is perfect for late night snacks too. Yum!

Friends Kyo | Best Hostel in Kyoto

I’ve already said that the best city to stay in Japan is Kyoto, and this is a contender for best hostel in Japan. Friends Kyo is located in the historic Gion district. It’s just a quick five-minute walk to fun shopping and clubbing districts too. Moreover, there is a cozy lounge, a library, and a rooftop garden perfect for catching a sunset! A free laundry service is provided too.

Kyoto Takao Home Spa | Best Airbnb in Kyoto

This Airbnb in Japan is one perhaps even of the best places to stay in Japan. It’s run like a bed and breakfast, located in a scenic spot full of maple trees and surrounded by nature, situated in the northwest of Kyoto city. You’ll feel properly immersed in Japanese culture here.

Nara – Best Place to Stay in Japan For Families

Nara is the best city to stay in Japan when you’re traveling with your family. Nara is known for its deer park, where domesticated deer nuzzle you and eat treats from your hands.

Deer smiles for camera in Nara, Japan.
Oh, guests.
Photo: @audyscala

Plus walking around the Koufax-ji temple complex with tons of pagodas makes for a great afternoon activity. Basically, Nara is packed with wonderful temples and beautiful gardens. Since it is a smaller city, it is much less overwhelming than the big cities in Japan like Tokyo and Kyoto. You and your family will find Nara much easier to navigate. That’s one of the big reasons why Nara is the best city in Japan to stay in when traveling with young ones in tow!

Best Places to Stay in Nara

Nara is a beautiful city to stay in with your family. I love the great accommodation options that make staying with a family easy as pie! Let’s get to covering the best Airbnbs, guesthouses, and hotels in Nara.

Setre Naramachi, Nara
Setre Naramachi

Setre Naramachi | Best Hotel in Nara

Setre Naramachi offers more spacious rooms than a lot of other hotels in Japan. You and your family won’t be squashed like sardines in these superior rooms. Plus, each room comes with a fridge, wardrobe, and TV. Also, you’ll be close to Nara Park and to all the important tourist attractions. This brand new building has a gorgeous architectural design and a relaxing rooftop terrace to enjoy!

The Deer Park Inn | Best Guesthouse in Nara

The Deer Park Inn is a wonderful guesthouse inside the Nara World Heritage Area. It has a relaxing, mountain lodge atmosphere as many of the private rooms enjoy sweeping views of the park and the forest. You and your family will love being surrounded by nature and history, and being close to the sweet, roaming deer!

Buddhist Temple in Yoshino | Best Airbnb in Nara

Talk about a once in a lifetime experience for you and your family— don’t just stay at any old Airbnb in Japan when you could stay at a Buddhist Temple! This one bedroom and one bathroom guesthouse actually has four beds in it so you can comfortably stay with your family. Staying at the Seikokuji Temple in the East part of the Yoshino district in Nara is a truly incredible experience! You’ll be surrounded by mountains and fresh air, and you’ll get to take part in special temple experiences like sutra copying and meditation if you wish!

Hakone – Most Romantic Place to Stay in Japan

Hakone is best described as a spa getaway town that sits on an absolutely stunning lake. You will enjoy plentiful romantic vibes and even views of Mount Fuji on clear days.

Hakone Most Romantic Place to Stay in Japan

Stay in Hakone to see the renowned Torii Gate. The red Torii Gate is part of the Hakone Shinto shrine and it overlooks Lake Ashi. You can also take a tour of Lake Ashi by boat which makes for quite the romantic ride, if I do say so myself!

As a mountainous town, known for its incredible hot springs resorts, called onsen, and natural ambiance, you and your significant other are sure to make magical memories in Hakone!

Best Places to Stay in Hakone

As a spa and resort town there are some dazzling spots to stay at. If you are staying in Japan for some time then try staying at a hot spring resort! Check it off in style with my three options below.

Hakone Lake Hotel | Best Hotel in Hakone

Okay, okay. I know this is a little bit on the pricey side of hotels. It’s nothing ridiculous though when you consider the area you’re staying in, and the incredible amenities. You will truly be in couples paradise at the Hakone Lake Hotel. Set in nature, you’ll have direct access to natural hot spring baths and nearly unparalleled nature views.

Irori Guest House Tenmaku | Best Guest House in Hakone

The Irori Guest House is a lovely place to stay in a traditional Japanese styled guest house. Coming with a shared lounge and a bar, you’ll feel well taken care of at the Irori. Plus, you’ll also have access to the shared kitchen so you can whip up whatever you desire. Moreover, you’ll be just 200 meters from the Hakone Open-Air Museum and just over one kilometer away from the Hakone Gora Park.

Tatami Room in Old Style Japanese House | Best Airbnb in Hakone

Stay in couples paradise in this cultural gem of an Airbnb. When staying in Japan, you’re going to want to experience true Japanese culture and this is the place to do it! It’s a lovely traditional room within walking distance of the gorgeous Odawara Castle. Also, it is within walking distance to the beach.

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audy on top of a mountain in japan with the osprey aether

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Tokyo – Coolest Place to Stay in Japan

Oh Tokyo! The city where you can do absolutely anything and everything, though it can be quite expensive. Tokyo is home to restaurants where you can dance with cyborgs or you can hang out with animals at pet cafes. You can also ride in a real-life Mario Kart in Akihabara! Take the Tokyo streets by storm in this real world Mario Kart experience. You even get to dress up as the characters, as they do provide costumes.

Girl poses for a photo in the busy streets of Tokyo, Japan.
The world’s weirdest city.
Photo: @audyscala

That’s right, folks— Tokyo has it all. There are so many different districts to visit that it can feel overwhelming. You can walk around Giza for upscale shopping and incredible sushi or you can visit Asakusa to get a hefty dose of history and culture.

Nakameguro is the hipster neighborhood, and Akihabara is where all the anime and gaming happens. Obviously, there are many more neighborhoods but these are the ones not to miss.

Best Places to Stay in Tokyo

Tokyo is the best city in Japan for solo travelers. Here, you can get a vibe for the uber modern, unique, wild, and creative side of Japan. There are incredible places to stay in all of the Tokyo districts! Most hostels are located in East Tokyo, whereas the Airbnbs and hotels are spread around the city.

Ueno First City Hotel | Best Hotel in Tokyo

Ueno First City Hotel is just a quick one minute walk from the subway station, and close to lots of tourist attractions like the Ueno Zoo and the Tokyo National Museum. You get great value for your money at this simple, straight forward hotel! Hey, I could have recommended many fancier stays but I wanted to keep it under $100 a night for you all!

Hostel Bedgasm | Best Hostel in Tokyo

“Bedgasm” hostel delivers a truly wonderful Tokyo hostel experience . It’s a five story building, with a fun rooftop to hang out on. There is also a bar that offers each guest a free drink every night. Located just between Asakusa and Ueno, you’ll be right in the heart of the action!

Authentic Japanese Room | Best Airbnb in Tokyo

Coming in at an incredible bargain price, this Tokyo Airbnb is worth every penny. It’s for a private room in a house, with one bedroom and a shared bathroom. It’s styled in the traditional Japanese style. If you’re looking for a peaceful and comfortable stay in a more quiet neighborhood, that still has plenty of restaurants and shops around it— this is the Airbnb for you!

Kamakura – Where to Stay in Japan on a Budget

Kamakura is a lovely coastal town that has an abundance of gardens and temples. It’s also home to the Great Buddha, Daibutsu. This seaside Japanese city is actually just a bit south of Tokyo. You can do it as a day trip from Tokyo but it’s better to spend some quality time there to soak up the peaceful vibes and to save some bucks!

Kamakura – Where to Stay in Japan on a Budget
BIg Bad Budha

What I love about Kamakura the most, besides the opportunity to save some dough, is the dozens of Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines that are so incredibly tranquil. Also, if you were in need of a little adrenaline rush, Yuigahama Beach is a fun place to go surfing. Even if you just needed some time relaxing on the sand, Yuigahama Beach is the place to do it.

Best Places to Stay in Kamakura

The small town of Kamakura is the absolute opposite of Tokyo. There are not dozens of different districts to choose between. Basically, you’ll want to stay close to the beach so you can enjoy better views and being close to the water. But closer to the water means a little bit pricer, so it all depends on how tight your budget is!

Shibafu | Best Hotel in Kamakura

Shibafu is a guesthouse styled hotel with a garden, lounge, bar, and restaurant. It’s a lovely property with great facilities that put you close to all of Kamakura’s attractions like the Great Buddha and the Gokuaku-ji Temple. You’re also just 7 minutes walk to the beach. Bring a lunchbox and enjoy daily picnics on the beach.

Iza Kamakura Hostel and Bar | Best Hostel in Kamakura

The Iza Kamakura Hostel is the perfect hostel in Kamakura in terms of location, price, and atmosphere. You’ll be just two minutes from the train station, and you’ll love being so close to all the local attractions – afterall, it’s just a short walk to the beach! They do have a small restaurant where they offer reasonably priced meals. Great bang for your buck!

Welcoming Traditional Home | Best Airbnb in Kamakura

Relax in style at this Kamakura Airbnb that offers guests two bedrooms and two beds plus two floor mattresses. This traditional style Japanese home in Kamakura can fit 4 guests. It’s beautifully styled and is sure to impress guests. Plus, it comes at an incredibly affordable price. You won’t be breaking the bank with this Airbnb, especially if you’re splitting the room rate with your travel companions.

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A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

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Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.

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Miyajima – One of the Most Unique Places to Stay in Japan

It feels like you could practically visit anywhere in Japan and find unique things to do and see. We’ve already talked about cyborg dancing in Tokyo, but what about the Zao Fox Village at the base of Mt. Zao? Or even the cat island at Tashirojima? That’s right, Japan has an absurd abundance of the bizarre.

Miyajima – One of the Most Unique Places to Stay in Japan
Somebody left the tap running…

That being said, I think that if you want to do more than just snap an Instagram photo or two, staying in Miyajima is the best place to stay for a truly unique experience. This is a sacred island that lies off the coast of Hiroshima. It is home to the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine with a giant orange “floating” torii gate. Miyajima actually is Japanese for “shrine island,” and is often referred to as the Island of the Gods.

It’s one of the most scenic spots in all of Japan and promises guests a unique and memorable experience. You’ll love hiking Mount Misen or exploring the beautiful Virgin Forest. Make sure to stop by Miyajima Brewery for a pint! As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that Itsukushima is the official name for Miyajima. So if you’re doing some of your own Googling, you’ll have to search for both Itsukushima and Miyajima.

Best Places to Stay in Miyajima

As a small island, Miyajima actually doesn’t have that many accomodation options at all! So, I was very careful when making my recommendations as hotels can run up to $400 per night.

Hotel Kikunoya | Best Hotel in Miyajima

Just a quick seven minute walk to the famous Itsukushima Shrine, you’ll love the location of this hotel! Plus, it’s very close to the seaside. It’s a modern style hotel that offers travelers the choice between Western and Japanese-style rooms. A Japanese breakfast set is available for purchase, as are delicious dinners. There’s even a free shuttle to the ferry port.

Omotenashi Hostel Miyajima | Best Hostel in Miyajima

So, it turns out that there are absolutely no hostels on the island of Miyajima as of February 2020. That being said, there is a hostel located super duper close to the ferry port, right on the coast across from the island itself. You can practically see the island from the windows of this hostel! Enjoy budget friendly prices, a common lounge, and even a karaoke box! Just hop on the ferry to reach the island in less than 20 minutes/

Spirit Guest House | Best Airbnb in Miyajima

This Airbnb is a two bedroom traditional style Japanese home complete with paper sliding walls and a small garden courtyard. Up to six guests can fit in this home. You’ll love soaking up the calm atmosphere and spending time in the garden. This is no ordinary house or Airbnb! You’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped into an authentic cultural experience.

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Hokkaido – Where to Stay in Japan for Adventure

Hokkaido – Where to Stay in Japan for Adventure
Wan’t an Japanese adventure? Head to Hokkaido!

If you want an adventure in Japan, then check out Hokkaido – it really stole my heart and I think it will do the same for you too. Hokkaido resides in the northernmost part of Japan’s main islands and is 37 times larger than Tokyo.

It’s known for volcanoes, skiing, natural hot springs, and quiet hikes. The immense Daisetsuzan Natural Park, one of Japan’s National Parks, has the steaming Mount Anahi volcano, and the Sikorsky-Toya National Parks are home to the divine geothermal hot springs. There are plenty of fun ski resorts on Hokkaido, which means that deciding where to stay is more than difficult.

Best Places to Stay in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is a huge island. Because it lies so far north, make sure to pack warm clothing even in the summer months. There are some great cities in Hokkaido worth staying in, like Sapporo with it’s incredibly famous dishes like and Genghis Khan. If you’re up for something totally different and awesome, you gotta check out the cool capsule hotels in Sapporo. They’re like nowhere else!

On the other hand, I love staying in the seaside towns like Otaru, Abashiri, and Shiretoko offer incredible seafood and sweeping ocean views.

Hotel Potmum Sapporo | Best Hotel in Hokkaido

Hotel Potmum Sapporo has such a gorgeous and highly urban vibe! It’s a very artsy place, with high ceilings, fireplaces, and soft lighting. The decor is positively magazine worthy! It is an affordably priced hotel that will keep your wallet happy. Plus, there is a shared kitchen to use so you can whip up a meal if you’re craving some good ol’ home cooking! Some rooms do have their own kitchenettes and fridges too, while all rooms have an eclectic kettle.

Untapped Hostel in Sapporo | Best Hostel in Hokkaido

Surround yourself with new friends at Untapped Hostel. It’s filled with other backpackers and has a fun vibe. Moreover it’s actually located near Hokkaido University, so you’ll be fully immersed with other young people. There are three unique dorms, with capsule-like beds. There is also an onsite restaurant that serves delicious, homemade Japanese cuisine.

Otaru Ocean View Condo | Best Airbnb in Hokkaido

This Airbnb is for a one bedroom with two beds and one bathroom condominium. It has a relaxing balcony that overlooks the harbor. You’ll love being in the heart of Otaru, very close to the canal walk and all the sightseeing spots in the area. Additionally, this clean and spacious Airbnb sits close to the Otaru sushi street!

Fuji Five Lakes – Where to Stay in Japan to See Mount Fuji and Nature

Fuji Five Lakes is actually a region at the base of Mount Fuji itself. There are, surprise surprise, five lakes: Shoji, Yamanaka, Motosu, Kawaguchi, and Saiko.

Nestled in the center of all of the lakes is Fujiyoshida city, which has an amusement park and hot springs with traditional wooden bathhouses. One of the most beautiful places in Japan is the trail that goes up Mount Fuji called the Yoshida Trail.

Girl rides bike across a bridge by Lake Kawaguchiko in Japan.
This one a day to remember.
Photo: @audyscala

If you are trying to decide where you should stay to get access to Mount Fuji and to also really sink your teeth into the abundant natural beauty that Japan has to offer, Fuji Five Lakes region is for you.

Best Places to Stay in Fuji Five Lakes

While there are accommodation options sprinkled throughout the Fuji Five Lakes region, I find it easiest to stay right inside Fujiyoshida city. That way, you have easy access to convenience stores, transportation, restaurants, and whatever else you might need! Plus, you can still enjoy beautiful views of Mt. Fuji!

Bself Fuji Onsen Villa | Best Hotel in Fuji Five Lakes

Treat yourself to a night or two in paradise at this gorgeous hotel! There is a private hot onsen bath for guests.

The location is also phenomenal! So close to many shops and restaurants, all within just a few minutes walk. It’s a convenient location to access all the top tourist spots!

Hostel Fujisan You | Best Hostel in Fuji Five Lakes

Hostel Fujisan You is located right in the heart of Fujiyoshida city. It’s a new hostel, so everything is truly sparkling clean. The staff provides guests with homemade bread, cereal, coffee, tea, and milk in the morning. It’s a great hostel filled with incredibly kind staff.

Spectacular View of Mt. Fuji Tiny House | Best Airbnb in Fuji Five Lakes

This Airbnb is located in Fujiyoshida city. Enjoy your own private panoramic view of Mt. Fuji from this tiny house! It has one bedroom and one bathroom, but up to four guests can squeeze in there. What’s so special, besides the unparalleled view, is that there is a king-sized mattress to make for a tranquil night’s sleep!

The Top Places to Stay in Japan

You can probably now tell that Japan is chock full of incredible cities and great accommodation options. It was so hard to write this piece, and to sift through all the beautiful cities packed with wonders, history, culture, and more than a handful of unique oddities! Below, I want to cover the absolute top places to stay in Japan.

The Top Places to Stay in Japan

Hotel Potmum Sapporo – Hokkaido | Best Hotel in Japan

Hotel Potmum Sapporo is one of those magazine worthy hotels that look more than ready for your hipster instagram photo shoot. With bookcases, high ceilings, urban decor, you’re going to be snapping a photo or too here. Plus, it’s actually a very affordable priced hotel. Trust me, that’s not the case with these chic hotels in Japan!

Hostel Bedgasm – Tokyo | Best Hostel in Japan

This hostel is one for the books! With a name like “Bedgasm” one would hope that it offers a really unique and cool experience. You’ll love wandering around the nearby areas of Asakusa and Ueno. And when you feel like just chilling, head on up to the rooftop and relax in the hammock! Downstairs, there is a bar that offers guests a free drink each night. Why thank you, Bedgasm.

Spectacular View of Mt. Fuji – Fuji Five Lakes | Best Airbnb in Japan

This tiny house is yours for the taking in the Fuji Five Lakes Region in the heart of the city of Fujiyoshida city. Sitting by the window and soaking up private views of Mt. Fuji day-in and day-out is unforgettable. Just don’t get stuck spending the entire day out there gawking at the mountain! Go out and hike it!

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What To Pack For Japan

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive hostel packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Japan

Wherever you are planning on staying in Japan, one thing remains constant… THE NEED FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE!

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Japan

Are you ready to pack your bags and head off to Japan? Have you figured out exactly where to go now? I hope that my guide of where to stay in Japan and all the top places to stay in Japan was helpful! From Mt. Fuji to real life Mario Kart Racing in Tokyo the incredible Floating Torii Gates in Miyajima, there is so much to do and see in Japan! Now, go exploring, friends!

A girl dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono smiles for a photo.
It’s tea time.
Photo: @audyscala
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