Sensei, the Founder of Shiatsu Therapy, was born November 3rd, 1905 in Kagawa
prefecture on Shikoku Island, Japan. When he was 7 years old, his family moved
to Hokkaido where the weather was cold and harsh. His mother "Masa" developed
rheumatoid arthritis as a result of hard physical labour and the change from a
warm to a cold, damp climate. There was no doctor or medicine available due to
the isolation. Tokujiro, only 7 years of age, tried to ease his mother's pain.
He discovered that she felt better when he pressed on her body with his thumbs,
rather than stroking or rubbing. He concentrated his pressure on points which he
found on the cervical region of her spine as well as the middle and lower back.
As he applied himself, he also learned the relationship between the Adrenal
glands and rheumatism. Eventually Masa's rheumatoid arthritis was cured by
Tokujiro's treatment. She lived in good health to be 88 years of age.
his study and practice he subsequently developed a scientific anatomical and
physiological theory which explained his treatment. This unique Japanese
hands-on therapy, he called "SHIATSU" (meaning thumb and finger pressure in
Japanese). He then opened his Shiatsu clinic in Sapporo in 1925 and in Tokyo in
1933. In 1953, he was invited to introduce his Shiatsu at the Palmer
Chiropractic School in Iowa, U.S.A. There he developed a good relationship with
Dr. B.J. Palmer who was a founder of Chiropractic.
Toru Namikoshi Sensei,
who is a son of Tokujiro, stayed at the Palmer Chiropractic School for 7 years
to study and compare Shiatsu and Chiropractic. After he returned to Japan from
the U.S., he contributed to the development of Shiatsu Therapy based on modern
Anatomy and Physiology.
In 1940, Tokujiro established his school, the Japan
Shiatsu College in Tokyo, and began to train Shiatsupractorｮs/ Shiatsu
Practitioners. This was the first Training school in the world for
Shiatsupractorｮ s/ Shiatsu Practitioners. In 1955, the Japan Shiatsu
College was officially licensed by the Ministry of Health in Japan. At present,
the 3 year Registered Shiatsu Therapist program requires students to be in full
attendance for 2500 hours. Upon successful completion of the program the
students are eligible to take the government examination.
In fact, there is
only one type of Shiatsu Therapy in the world today, the original Shiatsu
Therapy of Namikoshi Sensei but there are many derivatives. The most popular and
best know of these derivatives is Zen-Shiatsu developed by Shizuto Masunaga
Sensei. He graduated from the Japan Shiatsu College in 1958 and devised his
style of Shiatsu based on the Chinese Meridians. It is known around the
In 1955, Shiatsu Therapy was first authorized by the Ministry of
Health in Japan. At that time the Ministry mistakenly assumed that Shiatsu and
Western massage were partially Anma, a type of Acupressure massage from ancient
China. In 1964, The Ministry of Health in Japan realized that Japanese Shiatsu
and Western massage didn't belong to Traditional Chinese Medicine and amended
the law so that Anma from China, Shiatsu from Japan and Massage from the West
were all realized as different and unique therapies. Finally, Shiatsu Therapy
obtained legal acknowledgement as a unique therapy.
Today, the Ministry of
Health in Japan authorizes Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Anma, Massage and Shiatsu
as "Alternative Therapies" which it regulates under the license system. This
licensing system has promoted a misunderstanding that Shiatsu belongs to
traditional Chinese Medicine. This is because the Japanese Ministry of Health
considers Japanese Shiatsu, Western Massage and Anma, (all hands on therapies)
to be in one category, As such, they all come under one license.
Practitioners are required to pass government exams. Every student in Japan
who wants to become a Shiatsu Practitioners or a Registered Massage Therapist
must learn the Chinese Meridians to pass the examination. Students who pass are
officially called an "Anma, Massage and Shiatsu Practitioners".
important to recognize that Shiatsu and Western massage do not belong to
Traditional Chinese Medicine. Shiatsu Therapy was first authorized by the
Japanese Ministry of Health in 1955. At that time, the Ministry considered Anma
(a type of acupressure massage from China), Western Massage and Shiatsu all as
one inclusive therapy. It was not until 1964 that Shiatsu and Western Massage
were recognized by the Ministry of Health in Japan as distinctly different
therapies not belonging to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Although the word
"Shiatsu" is originally Japanese, its meaning has come to be understood in
English speaking counties and throughout the world.