Readings 5 Elements Tiatsu ™

Brief History of Shiatsu




The treatment of the body using chi has been around for a very long time. One of the first written accounts describing meridians as channels of energy was discovered in a Han dynasty (206BC - 220AD) tomb in Hunan, China; 8000 year old stone acupuncture needles have been found, also in China, and Neolithic ice mummies have been found to have acupuncture points tattooed on their skin. There is ample evidence therefore that people have been aware of chi, and been treating it for many, many years.



The story of Shiatsu as we now know it, however, carries on in Japan which in the 6th Century, like so many of its neighbors, adopted much of the Chinese view of medicine. The concept of chi (ki in Japanese) became as central to Japanese culture as it was in China. So much so that the equivalent greeting to ‘how are you?' in English translates to ‘how is your ki?' in Japanese, and the expression for poor health means literally ‘bad ki.'

The originator of Shiatsu therapy was a young boy named Tokujiro Namikoshi. He was born on November 3, 1905 on the Japanese Island of Shikoku. When Namikoshi was 7 years old he and his family moved from the warm Southern climate to a more harsh one on the northern Island of Hokkaido. Once there, Namikoshi's mother began suffering from what is known today as rheumatoid arthritis in her joints. To alleviate the growing pain and in the absence of a village doctor Namikoshi began stroking and pressing the afflicted parts of her body. This reduced the mother's pain and allowed Namikoshi's hands to develop a sensitivity to the stiffness, temperature and skin condition of the body. Soon the young therapist realized the greatest healing benefit was achieved when he pressed the body 80% of the time and rubbed it 20%. In time he cured his mother's condition.



This experience sparked Namikoshi to study the human body and eventually he systemized his thumb pressure method known as SHIATSU, ("shi" means finger and "atsu" means pressure in Japanese). In 1925 he opened the first Shiatsu Institute of Therapy on Hokkaido. Once accepted and operational, Namikoshi then moved to Tokyo to infect the Japanese capital with the genius of his new founded therapy. It was in 1953 that Shiatsu was exported as a Healing Art form from Japan and introduced to North America when the Palmer Chiropractic School in Iowa, USA invited Master Tokujiro Namikoshi Sensei and his son Toru to teach the art. Over 4 decades later, Shiatsu has become internationally accepted as one of the most effective natural healing art forms.


Sharon practices a shiatsu developed by Watura Ohashi

"A key to happiness is to know your weaknesses, know your strengths, and live accordingly. Through self knowledge you discover where your talents lie and those things that do not support your life. Once you make those discoveries, you are enlightened. All there is left to do is to live a happy life." -Ohashi


Ohashi's experience with traditional oriental healing began in his infancy. Born in 1944, near Hiroshima, Japan, he had a weak constitution that made him vulnerable to illness. As a young child his strength was restored and has been maintained since by the healing techniques that are central to his teachings. Believing that the Eastern concept of health can benefit 21st century men and women, he has dedicated himself to the teaching and practice of this philosophy.


Ohashi came to the United States in 1970 after completing Chuo University and studying with different teachers of Eastern healing theory and therapies. In 1974, he founded the Ohashi Institute.




The Five Principles of Ohashi’s shiatsu:



 Just Be There, Don't Press


 Use Both Hands; Make a Connection


 Be Continuous


 Be Natural


 Be Reverent