Chapter 3: Cherry Blossoms and Liver Spots*

Chapter 3: Cherry Blossoms and Liver Spots*

(March – May 2018)* I started chemotherapy two days after returning from my Christmas trip to Tokyo. That sleepy smile in the photo above is a combination of traveling and the massive dose of Benadryl I received before the infusion. Jaime (left) and Vickie (right) made my chemo treatments as easy, and as fun, as chemotherapy could possibly be. They were happy, loving, and friendly to everyone, and I will treasure their friendship always. You read that correctly. (That isn’t a COVID mask – it’s what an immunocompromised cancer patient wears to try to stay safe in public). My mother,

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Chapter 4: You Are Not Prepared*

May 20, 2018 – Mt. Akagi (#1) In Japan, it isn’t possible for foreigners to rent a long-term apartment without a long-term visa (more on this in a later chapter). Due to “exigent circumstances” (discussed more in the book), we had to make due with short term rentals during our first four months in Japan. Fortunately, I had already booked our initial six-week stay through 1/3 Residence–a company that rents short- and medium-term furnished apartments in Tokyo. I worried a little about how Oobie would react to the move. She was a rescue, but we adopted her directly from the

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Chapter 2: One Hundred and One*

Chapter 2: One Hundred and One*

I don’t have many photos to document Chapter 2 of CLIMB,* which chronicles my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and early treatment. (In fairness, I suspect I’m not alone in the fact that my first reaction to learning I had cancer wasn’t “SOMEONE GRAB THE CAMERA”) I also have no photographs of my beloved grandmother, Peggy, whose cancer story I also share in Chapter 2. For those details, you’ll have to read the book… However . . . although this is the shortest chapter in the photo companion, it’s not entirely without pictures: Four weeks after my double mastectomy, I flew to

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Chapter 1: Victory–And Misery–On Misen

Mountain: Mt. Misen (弥山), Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan (The short caption directly beneath each photo matches the text in CLIMB.) My first view of Miyajima: (original photo taken in June 2015). The Otorii is visible at center left, and the mountain rising just to the left of center is Mt. Misen. Historically, the entire island was considered sacred ground. The first Otorii was built before the tenth century; the existing gate dates to 1875. The Ōtorii (great torii) measures 24 meters wide and rises 16 meters high (measured from the sand on which it sits). Torii are sacred Shintō gates that

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Kegon Falls

Kegon Falls

Kegon Falls, in Upper Nikkō (Tochigi Prefecture, Japan) consistently ranks among the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, if not the world. The 97-meter, bridal-veil style fall was created when ancient lava flows from nearby Mt. Nantai diverted the flow of the Daiya River. While most of the water cascades down the face of the lava flow, some of the water filters through the porous rock and emerges near the base of the primary fall, creating more than a dozen smaller waterfalls near the base of the primary falls. Kegon Falls is open to the public, and accessed via an elevator

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July 30, 2020: TELL ME YOUR SECRETS

Watch or Listen Now! You can watch or listen to this interview any time on Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts as well as at the original links below! WHEN: Thursday, July 30, 2020 WHAT: A live conversation about climbing mountains (real and mental), surviving cancer, overcoming fear, why it’s unwise to eat raisins on a mountain, and why you should dare to live your dreams. WHERE: Watch it on YouTube! – Or watch it live right here:

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Prepare to CLIMB!

Prepare to CLIMB!

Dare to Dream, and You Can Change Your World CLIMB – the narrative nonfiction story of my journey to overcome cancer and conquer fear by climbing 100 of Japan’s most famous mountains – releases this coming Monday, August 3, worldwide. (Purchase links for online and local bookstore sources are here.) Advance praise: “Spann’s journey is a tremendous reach into uncertainty amidst a cancer diagnosis, and ultimately her summits become a reward far more than the tops of the mountains she attains. ” — Erik Weihenmayer, Athlete, Adventurer, Bestselling Author and founder of NO BARRIERS USA Due to COVID-19, I don’t have any

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Rebuilding History at Kumamoto Castle

Rebuilding History at Kumamoto Castle

It’s my day to blog at Murder is Everywhere, and I’m sharing a little about the 400-year history of Kumamoto Castle, the massive earthquake that almost destroyed this piece of living history, and the spectacular renovation currently under way. I hope you’ll click through and join me for a virtual trip to a beautiful site on Japan’s southernmost major island: https://murderiseverywhere.blogspot.com/2020/07/rebuilding-history-at-kumamoto-castle.html

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Incense Clocks: Burning Time in Medieval Japan

Incense Clocks: Burning Time in Medieval Japan

Before the introduction of mechanical clocks with pendulums and gears, people around the world used a variety of ingenious devices to mark hours and keep track of time. Most people are familiar with hourglasses, water clocks, and candles, but fewer people outside of Asia have seen (or used) an incense clock. Incense clocks originated in China or in India (there are arguments, and evidence, for both) and spread to Japan by the 8th century (if not before). While the simpler clocks used sticks of incense that took known periods of time to burn, more elaborate clocks involved setting patterned lines

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