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Shiatsu literally means thumb pressure which is applied along the energetic meridians and to the specific acupuncture points found in Oriental Medicine.  It influences the flow of energy through out the limbs and in the core of the body along the meridians and muscles and in the functions of the associated organs.

Shiatsu can be effective for a wide range of medical conditions by sedating or stimulating channels or regions of the body where there is blocked and therefore insufficient energy in some places and excessive energy in others in the muscles, skin and organs versus reading the pulses.  Shiatsu benefits:
•    lack of energy
•     pain
•    digestive problems
•    head aches
•    insomnia
•    stiffness
•    and various other medical conditions

Our approach to Shiatsu might be “running” the meridians or energy channels, or applying the shiatsu technique to focus on the energy or lack of it in the different muscles.  Or we might focus on the key tonification/sedation points for a general treatment or for building energy for a specific deficiency.  For specific conditions, we sometimes draw on a series of points known to be effective for that condition.


The Origins of Shiatsu
Its origins date back to Chinese antiquity with the origins of Oriental Medicine which archaeologically date 5000 years ago but upon written record dates 2000 years ago in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic Internal Medicine-Nei Jing.  During the unification of the Northern and Southern China in 500bc, the science of Oriental Medicine evolved so that mastery of oriental bodywork was required of each OM medical physician to help them refine their palpation skills necessary for the practice of acupuncture. (
In 600 AD, a Buddhist monk, Gan Jin Osho brought to Japan the medicine of the Imperial China which included Oriental Bodywork which came to its peak 10 to 1200 years later.  However, in 1900s the influence of Western medicine, caused the ruling elites to ban Traditional Oriental Medicine OM.
But Tamai Tempaku in 1919 merged Western understanding of anatomy, physiology and massage with oriental bodywork therapies.  He wrote “Shiatsu Ho” and “Ampuku” (Hara-similiar to the Chinese Dan Tien in the middle of the lower abdomen, the elizir of Life).   His students Katsusuke Srizawa, Tokujiro Namikoshi and the mother of Shizuto Maunaga developed their own approaches and founded schools which still influence modern Shiatsu.  Momentarily Shiatsu was again banned by the US army post WWII but was re-instated after an outcry from the Japanese people.  In 1985 it was legally recognized by the Japanese government and throughout the Japanese industries it is offered free to their workforce as a preventative for loss of work.
Toshiko Phipps brought and taught Shiatsu to the US in 1950.  In the 70’s, Shiatus became more widely known and by the 80s the following forms evolved:
Acupressure Shiatsu-focussing on acupuncture points
Five Element Style Shiatsu-Points, breath, food are selected based on Five Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Macrobiotic Style Shiatsu-Developed Ojsawa, Kushi …and focusses on meridian work and living in harmony with the Tao and nature through lifestyle changes.
Nippon Style Shiatsu-Developed by Namikoshi with emphasis on Western physiology, OM and meridians
Zen Shiatsu-Developed by Masunaga, synthesizing tonification and sedation principles of TCM w/ western anatomy and physiology.
the above info derived from

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