History of Shiatsu


Follow Me on Pinterest Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage which is fairly new. I’m a big fan of Japanese culture as it teaches discipline and honor.

I see shiatsu as a much disciplined practice. A practitioner knows how to connect with the patient to achieve the benefits of shiatsu massage. He aligns his movements in accordance with the patient’s breathing. Why this is done? Shiatsu is a way to diagnose the energy flow in the meridians and the therapist needs to find the location where chi is blocked. This is not an easy task and shiatsu therapists practice meditation to achieve this.

The Evolution of Shiatsu

Though shiatsu appears as a modern reference in a book written in 1915, called Shiatsu Ryoho written by Tenpaku Tamai. Master Namikoshi used a total different approach from Chinese meridian and chi based therapies. Already at the age of seven years old in 1912, master Namikoshi at age seven developed a pressing technique as he was nursing his mother because she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Namikoshi is considered to be the founder of shiatsu. His influence on shiatsu is enormous. He created a genre which inspirited others to create other derivative therapies.

Already in 1925 master Tokujiro Namikoshi has founded the first clinic for Shiatsu therapy in Hokkaido which was using the perfected system by the. Later in 1940 Namikoshi founded the first school to teach shiatsu therapy in Tokyo. Now this school is known as Japan Shiatsu College. Right after the foundation of the shiatsu school, master Namikoshi was involved with the legal recognition of Shiatsu in Japan, which may account for his emphasis on Western medical theories. Achieving so much Namikoshi became popular and had fame. He also successfully treated persons as the former Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. Namikoshi’s fame spread abroad and many foreign celebrities sought master’s treatment. Muhammad Ali and Marilyn Monroe are few of those celebrities who were looking to meat Namikoshi for his shiatsu treatment. Today Namikoshi’s system achieved a legal status in Japan. A clinical investigation started in 1947 and lasted 8 years which proved to be effective. After what The Ministry of Health of Japan acknowledged shiatsu therapy. This meant that shiatsu reached the same status as anma massage and western massage in 1955.

Later in 1964 Shiatsu was acknowledged as a separate therapy on its own in Japan. Everyone practicing Shiatsu in Japan should obtain a license from the Ministry of Health and Welfare. To become a licentiate shiatsu practitioner you should study an educational program of shiatsu therapy. The program itself requires around 2500 hour in three years of studies in the universities and colleges authorized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and in the end you have to pass the national exam.

Conclusion: Even if shiatsu is a new form of massage don’t discount it. Shiatsu applies the knowledge of acupoints and meridians which comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is a strong knowledge accumulated by thousands of years of practice. I believe that if something works for thousands of years (acupuncture, meridians), it should work today as well.