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Everyone needs a Mt. Chokai

I climbed Chokai-zan the other day from the southern Yunodai trailhead. Only by climbing did I realise why it’s not the usual route. That side of the mountain is tough. Extensive stretches of rocks that really test your stamina, and only barely visible yellow markings to show the way for much of it.

The whole climb took 9.5 hours, was 12km total, and had more than 1k of ups and downs. I ran out of water even though I brought 2.5l, thankfully there were a few snowbanks to get some, and by the time I got back to my car, I had 1% left on my phone battery, and blisters on my feet.

Needless to say, I hadn’t done a climb like that in a while. It was a reminder of why mountains are so good at keeping us in check. I totally underestimated the mountain, but thankfully we were still able to reach the summit, and reach my car before sundown (I always carry a headlight and spare battery just in case).

Part of the reason why we took so long is because it was such a good day, I kept stopping to get photos and video. Next time I do a hike that is more than 3 hours one-way, I’m going to be more strict on the type of footage I get. I’ll also be a bit more selective in who I bring, I think I’ll only take people on mountains if they’re trails that I know.

Either way, everyone needs a Mt. Chokai every once in a while.

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi


Hi, I’m Tim Bunting AKA the Kiwi Yamabushi, a New Zealander who became a Yamabushi Ascetic in the Dewa Sanzan mountains of north Japan. I’m part of the Yamabushido team, and we host life-altering Yamabushi training on the Dewa Sanzan (website link). People come to us for the ultimate mindfulness experience, to reach the next level, or simply connect with nature and themselves.

I’m on a mission to summit all 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture to spread the splendour of this fabulous location, and in dedication to all those who lost their lives out in nature, including my father.

On my daily blog I post thoughts of a practicing Yamabushi that I hope people can use to better themselves and live as fulfilling a life as possible.

Sign up to the weekly Mountains of Wisdom newsletter, follow me on social (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Clubhouse, all @kiwiyamabushi), or send me an email via the link below to stay in touch.



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All photos my own. Contact for more. 

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