Definition of Shiatsu


"Shiatsu" means shiatsu as originated by the founder of shiatsu, Tokujiro Namikoshi Sensei. It is the application of manual and digital pressure to the skin with the aim of preventing and curing illness by stimulating the body's natural powers of recuperation, eliminating fatigue-producing elements, and promoting general good health.



"The Complete Book of Shiatsu Therapy"

written by Toru Namikoshi



"Shiatsu technique refers to the use of the thumb, fingers and the palm of one's hands to apply pressure to partivular sections on the surface of the body for the purpose of correcting the imbalances of the body, and for maintaining and promoting health. It is also a method contributing to the healing of specific illness."



"The Theory and Practice of Shiatsu"

published by the Ministry of Health in Japan, in 1957





When the founder of Shiatsu Therapy, Tokujiro Namikoshi-sensei, was seven years old, he completely cured his mother who suffered from rheumatism. He used only his thumbs, fingers and palms in applying pressure to her body. This was the beginning of Shiatsu in 1912. His continuing studies lead him to the establishment of an anatomical and physiological theory of Shiatsu. He further developed his theory at his school which he opened to train Shiatsu therapists. As a result of continued presentation of his work, in 1964 the Ministry of Health of the Japanese National Government recognized Shiatsu as a uniquely Japanese therapeutic treatment.


The word "Shiatsu" is thought to have been used first by Tenpeki Tamai about the year 1900. Namikoshi-sensei was influenced by this, and gave the name "Shiatsu Ryoho(Treatment)" to the therapeutic method he had invented, thus establishing modern Shiatsu therapy. 





The Root of Shiatsu


The root of Shiatsu is 'Te-ate' (which means 'hands-on' in Japanese). When we feel pain, we usually place a hand on the affected area in attempt to relieve the pain. This behavior is called 'Te-ate', and nowadays the word 'Te-ate' indicates medical treatment in general. More than 2000 years ago in Japan's mythological age, an old Waka (Japanese poem) talks about the first doctor in Japan, named Sukunahikona-kami, healing people with his bare hands.



History of Shiatsu in Japan


There are many records throughout the world of people healing with their bare hands and over time this practice has developed to become massage in Europe, chiropractic in the USA, Amma / Tsuina in China, and Shiatsu in Japan.



Tokujiro Namikoshi-sensei was born.


He healed his mother of rheumatism. (The birth of Shiatsu)


The very first Shiatsu Clinic was opened in Hokkaido.


A Shiatsu clinic was opened in Tokyo.


A Shiatsu school that later became known as 'The Japan Shiatsu College' was opened.


Namikoshi-sensei visited Dr. Palmer of the Palmer Chiropractic School in Iowa, U.S.A. (The first introduction of Shiatsu in the West.) 


The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare officially recognized Shiatsu, Anma, and Massage in the same category.


The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare issued a legal definition of Shiatsu.

Japan Shiatsu College became one of the schools sanctioned by the Ministry of Health.


The Japanese Ministry of Health reviewed the regulations and acknowledged Shiatsu, Massage therapy and Amma as unique and independent therapeutic methods.



Techniques and Theories


There are many Shiatsu workshops held in Japan. These workshops are mostly organized by graduate students from the Japan Shiatsu College, who learned Shiatsu directly from Tokujiro Namikoshi sensei. In some cases, the workshops become very popular not only in Japan but throughout the world. A good example is Zen-Shiatsu created by the late Shizuto Masunaga sensei. The techniques taught at these workshops, however, are not recognized as Shiatsu treatment according to government regulations. Consequently, if a person only has a certificate from attending a workshop, s/he is not eligible to take the government examination to become a professional Shiatsu practitioner. The techniques taught at these workshops are called 'Derivative Shiatsu' to distinguish them from the original Shiatsu taught at the school that is registered with the Ministry of Health of Japan.


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