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The 500m rule

The 500m rule.

Those older Japanese dudes must be on to something. To have one of the longest life expectancies in the world they must be doing something right, right?

I’ve seen a lot of them addicted to alcohol and cigarettes, which is a bit worrying to be honest, but the guys I see constantly at the pool aren’t getting any younger, and yet they’re there nearly every day.

Which brings me to the 500m rule. Mr. Kato is a kind gentleman of 73 always ready to spin a yarn. He’s there basically any day I’m there between 3 and 5, and most of the time he says ‘Koē’, which is Shonai dialect for being exhausted.

Well, the other day I was talking to Mr. Kato, and he says to me that he did not feel like coming today. So naturally I ask him why he did come to which he replied, ‘whenever I don’t feel like coming, I allow myself to only do half of my normal distance.’ Hence the 500m.

You’d think that not feeling like coming would be enough to stop you from coming. It has been for me on multiple occasions. Not for Mr. Kato, though. He knows how important it is simply to keep going even when you don’t feel like it. That’s why he allows himself days where he only swims half his normal distance.

When you allow yourself not to go exercise a few times in a row, it can be really hard to get back in the pool. From watching Mr. Kato, it seems much easier to simply allow yourself to do less until you get your motivation back, as simply being there often does wonders for your motivation anyway.

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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