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Small parcels of openness

If you live in a place like this, where the natural environment dictates so much of your lifestyle, it’s only natural that you develop compassion for your fellow human beings.

For example, the snow makes the roads much narrower, which in a place with already narrow roads is a disaster. But everyone understands this, and there’s almost a competition to be the most considerate person to other people using the road.

At the same time, however, the environment makes getting around difficult, and so people spend excessive amounts of time indoors with the same people. This makes it harder to develop social skills, and people tend to keep to themselves more.

As a result, there is an insider outsider complex here. Anyone seen as an outsider is viewed with caution, naturally of course, and it takes a lot of effort to break the wall and become a true insider.

I think I have achieved that to a certain level here, and you’d hope so after 10 years, but I think a lot of that is due to the small parcels of openness that people inevitably offer, and then reciprocating in the right way.

Being closed off yourself is not good. People don’t respond well to that anyway, but especially here. This means you need to be inviting, but also cautionary to show a bit of your own weakness, a weakness that other people can see and want to help with.

Also, wanting to meet new people and actually listening to them goes a long way as well. I think a lot of my ability to listen is due to my agreeableness, which isn’t always a good thing, but it’s definitely helped me build relationships here.

Be kind, listen, and be compassionate. That would be my advice to those entering a new environment.

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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