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Uncovering Japan’s Hidden Gems

I’ve been consistently surprised by the depth with which I have been able to go to with the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata project. I know I go on and on about this project, but it has truly been probably the best way I could think of to learn about my own backyard.

I’m currently working on a story for Sabane-yama, which was known as a hard part of the Ushu Kaido, one of Japan’s most historically significant routes. The connections are uncanny. There is a direct relationship with Osaka Castle and the Shinkansen that I would never had guessed (well, the Shinkansen one you probably could guess), and all this from just a tiny mountain on the borders of a tiny town, Funagata.

Japan has roots that run deep. This is in huge contrast to NZ, where for example mountains don’t have that much of a meaning at all. To be honest when I started this project, I thought I would be climbing mountains like those in New Zealand, but it has turned out to be a huge discovery of hidden culture. Hidden, or simply not communicated. I have had to dig deep to find a lot of information, but it is there, and it is useful.

I feel it’s my job to dig this stuff up and make it consumable, and I’m trying to do that the best I can. So far on a personal level it has been quite rewarding, and I intend to keep it up.

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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Get In Touch

Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


All photos my own. Contact for more. 

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