copyright Shiatsu International and Peter Rose December 1999



The object of Shiatsu is to achieve a constant harmonious flow of energy in the body.


Shiatsu is about energy, it is about projection of energy, it is about being a conduit for universal energy, it is about re-aligning a recipients energy; but it is also about pressure, the physical stimulus of selected trigger points, about physical releasing of toxins that had become locked into tissue, about releasing spasms and about correcting posture; it is about working on pressure points and releasing physical blocks to energy pathways. It also involves releasing the body amour, the muscles tightness that indicates locked in emotional stress.

There are many styles of Shiatsu some such as Clinical Shiatsu are predominantly about the physical work. In other styles, such as Zen Shiatsu, the energy work predominates.

The relative importance of the ratio between physical and energy work will vary with each patient and the conditions presented at the time of the treatment.


In every aspect of our lives intuition is the principle guiding force and the intellect is the tool that enables us to go in the direction chosen by our intuition. Complete and eclectic (wide ranging, all embracing) training with really absorbed knowledge are vital for good treatment. Really absorbed knowledge is that knowledge which has become almost unconscious knowledge, that which is known without conscious logical reasoning. Only with these things can the practitioner allow their intuitive senses to guide them into which parts of their intellectual knowledge they use at any moment in time.

Shiatsu International professional practitioners have been fully and eclectically trained.





SHIATSU from clients view.


Time for treatment about 50 mins but an hour is usually allowed


Dress -- patient fully clothed, preferably in a track suit or something similar.


Physical position usual position -- the patient lays flat on the floor, but in conditions where this is difficult for the patient the treatment can be done with the patient seated.


The therapist works on the pathways of energy that run around the body, gentle pressure is applied at points along these pathways, with the intention of ensuring a balance and easy flow of energy around the body. Some gentle stretching and easy manipulation may also be involved. There are several styles of Shiatsu but all follow the same general principles.


Used for: i.e. to treat. Stress, tension, specific pains and injuries, chronic conditions in  general, non specific conditions where there is a reduction in well-being . Recovery from trauma and ill health. Back pain and injury. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, hormonal problems, head aches, migraine, pregnancies. Etc.






Shiatsu is a form of therapy developed by the Japanese from ancient Chinese techniques and encouraged to evolve into modern day Shiatsu. The name Shiatsu is a Japanese word that means finger pressure. It falls with-in the dictionary definition of physiotherapy (the branch of treatment that employs physical methods to promote healing, including the use of light, heat, electrical

current, massage, manipulation and remedial exercise.) but it can be so much more that that. Shiatsu can free the body, the mind and the flow of energy around the body. It can de-congest and relax both the physical body and the mind. Shiatsu brings into harmony the internal forces of the body and so promotes better health from within.

Shiatsu is a form of natural healing that uses pressure and touch to treat energy meridians and  specific points to restore flexibility, vitality and organ function. It has been found to aid emotional stability, self confidence and peace of mind. The body’s own healing energy is amplified, thus whether the patient is suffering from ill health or is relatively healthy, they will benefit from treatment. It is normal to give a full body treatment even if there is only pain in part of the body any "health problem" ( as opposed to an injury) indicates a stagnation or excess of energy within other parts of the body. In cases of injury caused by external events Wataru Ohashi himself stated that there are occasions when treatment of specific injuries do not involve treatment of the whole energy system. He gives an example of a fall that results in a pulled muscle in the lower back with pain in the same area the next day, there is a mechanical reason for the backache, not one

involving the body's total energy flow. Even in such cases of external influence, Shiatsu can still be of great benefit . Especially in cases of injuries that have a long term effect, the changes in  posture that result will cause secondary problems and so an overall Shiatsu will still be needed, possibly with local Moxabustion treatment (heating selected acupuncture points) to speed up recovery from the original injury.


It should always be remembered that any ill health should be reported to your family doctor and where your doctor has prescribed medication the patient should consult with the doctor before making any change to the regime that has been agreed.


Shiatsu is normally given with the patient on a padded mat on the floor or in a sitting position.

The receiver of treatment should wear loose fitting clothes, preferably cotton or natural fibre for the session. Any person who strokes, presses, or rubs a sore point on the body is performing Shiatsu. The ancient Chinese massage technique of "Amma" became very popular in Japan because of its convenience and effectiveness. In the later half of the nineteenth century the western styles of massage started to replace Amma. They are similar in many respects as both involve  rubbing, stroking and dynamic interplay between giver and receiver. Shiatsu reflects Japanese cultural influences by being more calm in it's nature, with holding and evenness of pressure on specific points.




Shiatsu's basic principle is to apply pressure to the surface of the body in a gradual way so that it penetrates to the muscles below.


In Japan, Shinsai Ota wrote a book on Ampuku Shiatsu in about 1827 while in China the development of massage techniques was continued, based around the historically established principles of energy flowing within the body and mainly located in the classical "meridians".

In China Massotherapy has a very long history. The ancient Chinese text "The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine" mentions that in problems of general weakness, Do-In and Ankyo (Amma-Anma) are effective.

The Book of Han lists 10 volumes of massage. Over thousands of years massage has evolved and developed into an important method of treatment. Much of the development of Chinese Massotherapy has been aimed at the treatment of trauma and injury while Shiatsu development, especially the development of Zen Shiatsu, has been for the treatment of more general illness.


Chinese Massage and Shiatsu are similar in respect that both are aimed at influencing energy, ( Qi often written as Chi in Chinese, or Ki in Japanese ) and in acceptance of the Yin/Yang principles. They both differ from western massage by using the energy flowing through meridians and points (Tsubos in Japanese) while western massage is primarily a surface treatment aimed at relaxation of skin and surface muscles. Western massage has a very valuable part to play in the treatment and improved well-being of patients but it is not aimed at the same level of therapeutic process as Shiatsu.


Tokujiro Namikoshi studied both Amma and western Massage and founded his first therapy  institute in 1925. He founded the Japan Shiatsu Institute in 1940 and was the prime mover in getting official acceptance of Shiatsu as a separate treatment technique in it's own right. He started both the process of introducing Shiatsu to western people and the evolution of Shiatsu. This  evolution is still being continued. Toru Namikoshi (the eldest son of Tokujiro) was particularly involved in taking Shiatsu to America in the mid and late 1950's


Shizuto Masunaga was born in Hiroshima in 1925 and after studies in psychology he began working with Shiatsu, he was an instructor at the Japan Shiatsu Institute for 10 years. During this time he wrote many books on Shiatsu. Masunaga developed Zen Shiatsu.

The fundamental purpose of Zen is to achieve total human enlightenment through discovery of one's self and so the combination of this with Shiatsu is entirely compatible. Shizuto Masunaga stated that Shiatsu originated in a combination of Do-In and Amma (in western translations of his books this is spelt Anma). He also stated that in both Zen and Shiatsu we are dealing with something that has to be felt by the living body, in order to gain some understanding of it's nature.





Wataru Ohashi was a student of Tokujiro Namikoshi and continued the development and expansion of the awareness of Shiatsu by teaching in America and Europe. He founded the Shiatsu Education Centre of America in 1974. Ohashi worked with Shizuto Masunaga to promulgate the combination of Zen philosophy with practical Shiatsu.


Many talented and enlightened western students of the Japanese masters, have taken the development and expansion of Shiatsu even further. Harold Dull developed Watsu and Tantsu which combine the Tantra practice of freeing energy with Shiatsu. Harold studied with a Zen priest ( Renho Yamada) and then with Masunaga before creating a Shiatsu done with the patient floating in water (Watsu) and a land based Tantric bodywork style called Tansu.


There are many variations of the practical methods used in the application of the basic principles. (Reuho Yamada developed "New Age Shiatsu" and Ohashi developed "Ohashiatsu")

The aim of all of these is to assist the energies to flow freely in the receiver.


In order to give the most effective assistance to a patient the practitioner should have many different styles of therapy available for the intuition to chose from.


Shiatsu is still developing



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