What is Shiatsu?
Fundamentally Shiatsu is quite simple. It relies on the proper application of carefully judged pressure to specific points on the surfaces of the human body to eliminate fatigue and stimulate the body’s natural self – curative abilities. Pressure is applied with the fingers and hands. The Japanese word Shiatsu is composed of a character meaning finger (shi) and another character meaning pressure (atsu).
A kind of Shiatsu has probably been practiced by human beings since the very dawn of humanity itself. When a part of the body is sluggish or in pain, the natural reaction is to press or rub it with the hands. This reaction is probably the true origin of Shiatsu Therapy. But over many years of diligent study and research, such instinctive treatment has been scientifically systematized and improved to become a therapeutic method adjusted to the demands of a variety of ailments.
But Shiatsu is not strictly speaking medicine; it is primarily a way to prevent the development of sickness. Unfortunately, modern medicine, based almost entirely on medical and surgical treatment, has reached an impasse because it has overlooked the natural curative powers of the body. Medical science has tended to have a weakening effect on the human body’s natural resistance and to devoting too much attention to coping with symptoms once illness has appeared. Consequently, patients sometimes reach such poor physical condition that the best skills of doctors are unable to effect cures. Shiatsu is based on the opposite approach: it strives always to keep the body in top condition so that symptoms requiring medical attention do not develop.
Shiatsu was originally a purely Japanese treatment system, but today it is steadily growing popular in many parts of the world. The Namikoshi Institute of Shiatsu Therapy was the first of its kind. In 1940, it was the only institution devoted solely to Shiatsu in Japan. In 1955, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare recognized Shiatsu as a valid treatment in a general category with traditional Japanese massage (amma) and Western style massage. Since that time, the Namikoshi style of Shiatsu continued to expand and develop.