Category Archives: Japan

Springtime in Kyoto

Springtime in Kyoto – what a magical way to end our time in Japan. From the pictures we’ve seen, the only thing that can compare is possibly ‘Autumn in Kyoto’. Our last post on Japan leaves you with our springtime memories of the beautiful city of Kyoto.

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A Baker’s Dozen: Observations on Japan

Here are a few of our observations, based on our very short first visit to Japan: To our outsider eyes, Japan is an unusually homogenous country, due in part to its strict immigration laws. Locals claim vast diversity, but it may be a matter of degree (98% of Tokyo’s population are native Japanese). Another reason for homogeneity: Japan has never been colonized. Kublai Kahn’s Mongols tried to invade twice, and both times were turned back when their fleets were destroyed by typhoons (miraculous occurrences attributed to the kamikaze, or divine protective winds). Most recently, the Americans are largely credited with […]

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A Brief History of Japan

One of the things we’ve discovered about Japan is that it would be very hard to understand Japan today without understanding a bit about its long and unique history and culture. Sometimes it’s hard to separate fact from legend, history from tradition, but here’s our short summary of the history of Japan for what it’s worth. Oral tradition names Emperor Jimmu, a direct descendant of the Shinto sun goddess, as the first Emperor of Japan in 660 BC. Most historians, however, dismiss this early period as being beyond what history can actually know, and consider it legend until Emperor Kimmei. […]

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Kyoto, the Soul of Japan

Kyoto must be considered one of the world’s cultural and historic treasure troves. With 17 World Heritage Sites, more than 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, Kyoto has been called the “soul of Japan”. The guidebooks are full of descriptions of Tokyo as the bustling hub and gleaming modern capital versus Kyoto as the traditional, ancient capital in the central hills. So we might be forgiven if our first reaction as we stepped off the shinkansen into Kyoto Station was ‘Wow!’ I guess since Kyoto station was first opened by decree of Emperor Meiji in 1877, we were expecting […]

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Review: Hotel Granvia Kyoto

We’re not normally big fans of train station hotels, but the Granvia is an exception. While it’s not the Ritz (which we popped into and it was STUNNING), at a fifth of the cost, it was perfect for our whirlwind sightseeing stay in Kyoto. Our 15th floor room was spacious and immaculate… except that the bathroom had obviously been smoked in just before we arrived. The staff was on it immediately and by the time we arrived back from our first walkabout Kyoto, everything was good to go. The staff was professional and helpful at every level. When we realized we […]

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Mark & Shauna Trieb

We’re Mark and Shauna Trieb and we live in Dallas, Texas. We are actuaries-turned-adventurers and one of the truisms that guides us is: “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” So, we’re doing our best to see, meet, try, and inspire as many places, people, experiences and adventures, as we can during our one shot at life. Read More

Mark and Shauna Trieb are actuaries-turned-adventurers... Read More


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