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Locals and the Default Option

Why don’t locals take the default option? What is it about us that we a predisposed to not rate where we are from? I could be making this up, and it is entirely anecdotal, but I find the same thing in Japan as in New Zealand, where we just think the place we grew up in, or a place we have lived for a long time from a young age, is too normal to be special to anyone else.

New Zealand, once again, has succeeded at impressing me. That we are truly surrounded by nature is a blessing, waking up to the birds, the strong flow of the river, the interesting flora, what a great place. New Zealand is great in that there is ‘nothing there’. Just like where I live in Japan is great because there is ‘nothing there’.

Where I live in Japan is full of culture, good food, good people, and bountiful nature, so there’s always something to do. People are just so used to the default option, they think there is no other choice, that they don’t feel as much pride as they would had they been outside the place, let alone overseas.

I hear people say things like there’s nothing to do, or nothing fun ever happens here in both countries. But they’re most certainly wrong. They’re obviously looking in the wrong places, and seeing their default option as less worthwhile. I guess that’s one major advantage of travel, you get to see places in real life, not just in the photos and in the media where the grass is always greener. Being able to compare things first hand with other places, objectively at that, is a great advantage when it comes to choosing a place to live, but also in how to sell a place too.

In Japan, I often see this first-hand, but as the Japanese are generally quite passive, they really take after something if someone else sees the attraction in it, and usually only then. I assume the bell-curve of users that Seth Godin touches on often would be quite an effective way to look at things. Convince the right people to do something, and more and more people will follow. That’s how you change a culture. At the fringes, not in the centre. Never in the centre.

What’s the best way to make the default option attractive? I assume it would be to show locals that outsiders enjoy it. Perhaps that’s why those recent television shows of non-Japanese enjoying different aspects of Japan is so popular these days. The Japanese seem genuinely surprised that other people are interested in what they are interested in. We just have to convince those people to come to us.

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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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


All photos my own. Contact for more. 

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