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More Japanese than the Japanese

Quite often, Japanese people say I am more Japanese than they are. Obviously this depends on how you define ‘Japanese’ however.

I think this reflects two things; how modern the Japanese have become, and my romanticized view of Japan.

How modern they have become is more a comparison to times gone by. If you compare me to a Japanese person from 150 years ago, there is no competition. It’s obvious who the more Japanese person is. But if you compare me to a typical modern Japanese person, it might be true.

The typical modern Japanese person is very westernized, and their closest connection to being ‘Japanese’ would be, in terms of culture not race, something like saying ‘Itadakimasu’ before eating. Otherwise, their connection to their Japaneseness might well be lacking.

However there are a few key exceptions. Anyone who is currently practicing a Japanese art, such as Aikido, Kendo, Karate, Judo, Calligraphy, Flower arranging, tea ceremony etc. can easily be argued to be more Japanese than me.

Likewise, those who practice Japanese religion, such as Shintoism or Buddhism (which has taken on its own meaning after coming to Japan, fight me if you don’t believe me), or who have studied Japanese history or philosophy and take those learnings into their own life, those people can be called Japanese, quite easily.

I still feel I have a romanticized view of Japan. The sprawling rice fields, exquisite meals, traditional culture and history that is all around me, I enjoy.

When it comes to practicing as a Yamabushi, then yeah, I am more Japanese than the Japanese. If this is true, I think it shows that modern Japanese are forgetting what it means to be Japanese. This would mean I am more Japanese than my Japanese wife! Huh, I wonder what she has to say about that.

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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