Kia Koutou. Thanks for visiting. I’m Tim Bunting, the Kiwi Yamabushi.

Let me get straight to the point.

Struggle is a normal part of everyday life. What matters is how you deal with it.

In April 2016 I received news that no one ever wants to hear. My dad had been out hiking, had a heart attack, and died right on the spot. It’s the kind of news that sends shivers through your spine, and for myself it was a true wake-up call. Not only that, my mother is also terminally ill with a disease so bad you die twice. For someone still in their 30s, this has been very tough to deal with, and I wouldn’t wish anything of the kind even on my worst enemies.

However, less than a week after returning to Japan from my father’s funeral, I had a chance encounter that irrevocably changed my life. I was invited to join the Yamabushido project providing yamabushi training to English speakers. I jumped on the chance, and the rest as they say, is history.


In 2021 I began a project to summit and document the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata Prefecture on a special blog and YouTube channel.

Yamagata Prefecture has over 2700 mountains, an extraordinary amount for such a small place. In 2016, they made a list of 100 famous mountains, and I’m going to climb them all!

Get wisdom straight from the mountains of North Japan and updates on the Mountains of Wisdom project right in your inbox each Friday (Japan Standard Time) with the weekly Mountains of Wisdom newsletter. Or, join thousands of other people who support my work on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok.


In short, yamabushi are the mountain dwellers of Japan. Since ancient times, yamabushi have practiced the Shugendo, the way (do) of attaining divine natural powers (gen) through ascetic practices (shu). Otherwise known as Shugenja, ‘those who practice Shugendo’, the word yamabushi comes from Yama (山) meaning mountain, and fushi or fuseru (伏せる), meaning to promulgate, or to be on all fours. This is because yamabushi are often found crawling all over the mountains during Shugyo ascetic training.

Essentially, yamabushi training involves partaking in a number of rituals while out in nature. We see walking in silence in nature as a powerful form of meditation, and also take part in other rituals such as waterfall meditation and jumping over fire. There are many schools of yamabushi throughout Japan. I practice under Dewa Sanzan Shrine, and Daishobo Pilgrim’s Lodge run by our very own Yoda, Master Hoshino.

Read this detailed article to find out more.


I have written a blog post every day since the start of 2019 about becoming a yamabushi, my yamabushi philosophy, and creativity.

I have found yamabushi training to not only be comforting, but a restorative and productive way to deal with life’s struggles.

By becoming a yamabushi, I have learned what it means to appreciate nature, and through this appreciation I feel Ikigai, which I define as the desire to live well. It is my wish for those around the world who are struggling to have the chance to learn from my experience, to perhaps join yamabushi training (it’s not a requirement, but it definitely helps), and to discover Ikigai for themselves.

Thank you for your interest. See for more information.

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