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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. […] Read more

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 […] Read more

Two Tales of a City, Hiroshima

“Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British Grand Slam, which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare”. These fateful words of Harry Truman, President of the United States, on August 6th, 1945 marked the first public announcement of the atomic bomb. 140,000 would die from the effects of the bomb in Hiroshima by the end of 1945, and many more […] Read more

A Morning Visit to Miyajima Island

We arrived in Hiroshima after a long day of train travel, and checked into the Sheraton Hotel. Even though it’s right at the train station, the hotel is first-class. We couldn’t help but break into big smiles at the western-style room complete with fluffy king-sized bed, club lounge, and movies in English. We’ve been using Tours By Locals and batting .500 – Patrick in Tokyo was VERY good, Takashi in Takayama not so much. Jasmine, our Hiroshima guide, spent a year with her family in Oregon where her husband was a visiting professor. We started our day at Miyajima Island, one […] Read more

Takayama – Gateway to the Northern Japan Alps

Next stop, Takayama. We took a shinkansen (a Japanese bullet train) from Yokohama to Nagoya, then switched to an ‘express’ train from Nagoya to Takayama. An express train is slower than, and runs on different tracks than, the shinkansen, and usually has a few stops between major destinations. Takayama is considered the gateway to the northern Japan Alps. We could see them but quite in the distance. Nagano, home to the 1998 Winter Olympics, is 2-3 hours away. The highest peak we could see in the distance stands at about 10,000 feet tall, with the more immediate peaks around this […] Read more


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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