Mountains of Wisdom

Kia ora koutou. Tim Bunting the Kiwi Yamabushi here bringing you concepts, life advice, and hiking guides from the Japanese mountains.

Welcome to Mountains of Wisdom, my yamabushi newsletter. I aim to send this out every Friday JST, so don’t forget to check your inbox then, or you can always check out the most recent MOW and archives here.

I am a practicing yamabushi (mountain ascetic) from New Zealand, having moved to the Shonai region of Yamagata, Japan, in 2010.

I write a blog every day, and when I can, I make videos about little-known aspects of Japan and Japanese culture. For example, right now I’m on a mission to summit and document the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata.

You can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

My Story

Becoming a yamabushi changed my life irrevocably. So much so, I have made it my life’s mission to spread yamabushi practice. I help run yamabushi shugyo (trainings) for English speakers with Yamabushido.

My Idea of a Good Life

Climbing Zao-san on the border of Yamagata and Miyagi.

At the start of 2016, I arrived back in Japan from my Nana’s funeral. The day I got back to work at my side job, I was given a letter telling me I was being let go. Four months later, I got the worst phone call possible for anyone living overseas: my dad had died completely unexpectedly.

All in the space of 5 months.

If anything, these were all major wake-up calls for me.

In spite of this, I refused to let myself be a victim, and still do. Thanks to that, there were some pretty good lessons to be learned.

First, that I could be let go from a job straight after a funeral taught me that your boss doesn’t have an obligation to look out for your best interests. If you’re superfluous for a job, you’re superfluous for a job.

Dead relatives be damned.

At the very least, find a way to look after yourself that doesn’t rely entirely on the whim of someone else. Luckily for me it was a side gig. Although, now I do believe I would be able to stand on my own two feet if I were to lose my main job (knock on wood or whatever).

Second, Dad dying was a huge catalyst. If anything, it only entrenched the look after yourself part. Also, he was only two or so years from retiring from a job he really didn’t like. He’s proof that retirement isn’t guaranteed, so why work a job you don’t like?

From that point on, my attitude to work changed completely. I no longer think about working solely for the sake of earning money. If I did, I’d probably be in Tokyo or Osaka like the rest of them.

I’d probably also be working like a slave in a job where every day looked the same.


Love it or hate it, though, money is a necessity in our daily lives.

The key therefore is to find a way to support your living that allows you to be yourself while also exploring your creativity. Bonus points if it’s stuff you’d do anyway, for example in retirement. Hence this blog, my YouTube, and a number of other projects I’m working on.

With these projects, I want to bring you all of the insights I find out on the mountains of Japan, and I hope to do so in an entertaining way, through Mountains of Wisdom.

So, what are you waiting for? Hit the subscribe button, and I’ll send you all this and more straight to your inbox each week.

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The Japan you never knew you wanted to know. In-depth articles on traditional Japanese culture and spirituality.


Prolific conch blower and occasional mountain climber.