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The unforgettable old men

Yesterday I was recording a radio show, Kiwi Radio with Yuka Kato, and Yuka told me this great analogy: There are four things that have a knack of rearing their ugly heads exactly when you forget about them: Earthquakes, fires, thunder and lightning, and the fourth one is my favourite: old men.

Earthquakes and fires are obvious contenders. We have to be prepared for any eventuality that risks our lives, and these two play a particularly big role in all aspects of life when they happen. It’s enough to take you back down to earth (pun intended).

Thunder and Lightning is a frequent occurrence here in Shonai, mostly in the winter. The region sees more lightning than other parts of Japan, apparently. As such, we are quite well-prepared with lightning rods all around the place.

But the best one of the four by far is the old men part. Those who have spent time in Japan would know that it’s the world’s biggest retirement community, which has good aspects and bad aspects. The good aspects are that it’s pretty safe out there, and people are generally quite courteous to one another.

One bad aspect is that the older generation, and especially in a patriarchal society as Japan the old men, control everything. This makes it harder for minorities; women, non-Japanese, the disabled, LGBTQ etc. to act with freedom in society.

For me though, on the contrary I use this to my advantage because I know whatever I do it won’t be mainstream, and it probably won’t be in conjunction with the beliefs of these older dudes, so I just do whatever I feel like. I try to make myself a model for other people who feel marginalised by society, and let them know, who cares, do what you feel like!

The problem is, a lot of people are afraid of stepping outside the mainstream. They think that it might mean they will be cut out of society, out of a job, or any prospect of a job. Well, I think they have been educated to belief that because the status-quo is great for these old men at the top (obedient workers who bend over backwards for the company? What more could they ask for?).

So, I’m trying to become a model of an unconventional way to become ‘successful’ (whatever that means, but I would say it means being true to yourself in the modern society). This means I have to take more risk than the average person, and I feel I have to be on my toes a bit more too. But that suits me just fine. If this means I can inspire just one person to think a little differently, to act true to themselves, then I believe it is successful.

I believe that the world needs more risk-takers, especially in Japan!

So, I’m actually purposely trying to forget the old men! But I still have to remember to keep them in my sights, because they’re not going to let me forget them 🙂

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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All photos my own. Contact for more. 

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