The origins of Shiatsu date back to ancient China to the times of the Yellow Emperor. The Buddhist priest, Gan Jin Osho brought Chinese medicine to Japan, in the 6th century A.D. and taught Japanese healers the medicine of Imperial China.

Shiatsu as a form of physical manipulation was developed in Japan in the twentieth century. Its origin comes from ancient Chinese techniques, Do-In and anma. Do-In is very similar to yoga while anma resembles western massage. These two techniques are the oldest forms of medical treatment in the Orient.

In Japan, anma is practiced mainly by the blind for the purpose of pleasure and comfort. It wasn’t until recently that authentic shiatsu came into being for the sole purpose of medical treatment. In order to distinguish shiatsu from anma, shiatsu therapists intentionally borrowed western medical theory to explain this particular type of treatment. (Namikoshi Sensei)

The official founder of the Shiatsu School of Bodywork is Tamai Tempaku – his book “Shiatsu Ho” (Finger Pressure Therapy) published in 1919.

What is shiatsu?

  • Literally, “finger pressure”
  • A system of manual therapy originating in Japan. The primary technique is the application of pressure using the thumbs, fingers, hands, and, in some styles, elbows and knees.
  • Evolved from traditional Japanese massage, or Anma, in the early years of the 20th century.

What happens in a treatment?

  • The client is clothed in loose comfortable clothing, preferably of natural fibres, and lies on a cotton mattress, or futon.
  • No oils are used.
  • The therapist applies firm, sensitive pressure along lines of energy called meridians, to specific points, and to sensitive points or areas on the muscles.
  • Stretches are also commonly used in a treatment.

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