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Mt. Atsumi


Take it as it comes

Nothing like a good mountain to test your mettle. Today we climbed Mt. Atsumidake (I guess you could just say Mt. Atsumi) in the south of Tsuruoka. I had done a little bit of research in advance, but that research was all but pretty useless as it took way longer than expected to get to the top and back.

With Mt. Atsumi, you do a huge loop that takes you through extensive cedar forests, along a stream complete with awesome waterfalls, up a not so exciting service road, back into the forest and up to the top where a Kumano shrine and pretty spectacular views await. Then, the loop takes you back down through a combination of cedar and beech forests, where you eventually come to the remains of a praying spot for followers of nature worship, and we even saw an abandoned Shukubo, purpose-built lodging for pilgrims to the mountain. From there, it’s pretty close to the road that takes you back to the first entrance.

I had expected the climb to be a 2.5 hour loop, but it seems I got the calculation completely wrong, with the mountain taking us about 5 hours all up. These things happen though, when you have to live with the consequences of a mistake, and you have to push yourself further than you originally expected.

For us, we had the advantage of the YAMAP app that let us know where we were and at what elevation, so we knew how much longer we had, which didn’t exactly make it easier, but meant we had an idea what was in store.

That’s also one good lesson I think from Yamabushi training in that you have no idea when the training is going to end, if it’s a new mountain, you have no way of knowing how much further you have to go, you just have to take it as it comes.

Life is like that sometimes. Sometimes you don’t know how much longer you have to push yourself, but like the mouse that churns the cream into butter and climbs out of the pot, your effort might lead to results literally just around the corner.

I have also heard that people who have no experience controlling their breathing when in cold water don’t do so well, whereas people who can control their breathing can survive in cold water for much longer. This is all just in your head it would seem. This kind of self-belief I think is a sort of power that can help you go that much further.

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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