Friday, 13 June 2008

The Japanese Art of Shiatsu

Shiatsu is an oriental therapy, also known as acupressure, in which various disorders are treated by pressing on the skin at precisely located points. Although considered a Japanese type of massage, shiatsu actually has its origins in traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on the Eastern principle that the energy of life flows though longitudinal meridians in the body. The aim of treatment is to apply pressure at certain points along these meridians to maintain harmony and good health.

Look back in time

Shiatsu, Literally translated as "finger pressure," was introduced into Japan about 1,500 years ago. It has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine and, like Chinese massage, is based on the theory that energy flows through meridians in the body.

Humble beginnings

For hundreds of years, the most common form of Japanese massage was anma, which was used as a form of relaxation. At the beginning of the 20th century; however, the therapeutic potential of shiatsu was rediscovered, and it enjoyed a renaissance as a result of Tamai Tempaku's work and inspiration. Shiatsu was further popularized by Tokujiro Namikoshi, who from the age of seven, was able to alleviate his mother's debilitating rheumatoid arthritis with massage. After training, he went on to open the japan Shiatsu Institute in 1940. For the next two decades, shiatsu was thought of as anma massage, but in 1964, it was given official recognition in japan.

Tokujiro Namikoshi said: "The heart of shiatsu is like pure maternal affection; the pressure of the hands causes the spring of life to flow." Shiatsu is used in japan by professional therapists to diagnose and treat ailments, and it is taking over as one of the fastest growing areas of complementary medicine in many Western countries.

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