The Popularization and Dissemination of True Shiatsu

Kiyoshi Ikenaga, Shiatsumaster, SPR

The original form of Shiatsu arose out of "Teate".  Shiatsu, which is a unique hands-on therapy in Japan, was developed by the founder, Tokujiro Namikoshi sensei, almost a century ago. Today, the Japanese word “Shiatsu” has become familiar in English speaking countries as well as in countries throughout the world where different languages are spoken.  The original meaning of, and a direct translation of, "Teate" is "hands-on". Nowadays it is understood to mean "Treatment".  This helps us understand the fact that from ancient times in Japan, people, in their everyday lives have found that pain and other unpleasant symptoms can be relieved by placing their hands on the affected area.

Shiatsu Therapy has two distinct effects on the body. Firstly, applying pressure to the shiatsu points with one's fingers and palms, has a stimulating or adjusting effect on the body structures such as the integumentary system (skin and soft tissues), the muscular, nervous, skeletal, circulatory, endocrine, digestive systems and so on. It enhances the body's "natural healing ability" (immune system) which people already possesses, and prevents and treats illnesses. Secondly, we have the "Teate" effect on the affected body part upon which the hands are placed.

Presently we know that small amounts of  "chi", or energies such as a "negative ions" and "magnetism" are radiated from the skin of human beings.  This has been proven scientifically.  These energies, or "chi", are especially concentrated in the palms of experienced Shiatsu practitioners. We know the human body is controlled through electrical impulses generated by the brain and nervous system.  This "chi", radiating from an experienced practitioner's palms, works on the autonomic nerves to help normalize body functions and enhance the immune system. Therefore, Shiatsu, which does not require any equipment and has no side effects, is very effective in maintaining and improving health.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan acknowledged shiatsu in Japanese law in the 1950's. As a result, it is accepted as one of the most effective preventative alternative medicines in Japan. Today, upon completion of a program of about 2200 hours at a school authorized by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, practitioners are able to obtain a license to practice Shiatsu after writing a government examination, just as doctors and nurses do.

Unfortunately in Canada, Shiatsu is not regulated by any of the provincial Ministries of Health. However, several years ago, Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as acupuncture, came under regulation by the Ministry of Health in BC. The Canadian Shiatsu Society of BC (CSSBC) is taking the lead in BC and has been promoting the regulation of a high educational standard for Shiatsu, similar to the one in Japan. The CSSBC's 2200-hour educational standard for Shiatsupractors is already recognized as an index for issuance of Business Licenses at the Municipal level, for instance, the City of Vancouver.

As you are well aware, the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held here in Vancouver.  Shiatsu for health maintenance was given a positive reception by the athletes and staff of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Nagano, as well as at the Summer Olympics in Torino this year.  Shiatsu made a positive contribution to both events. The Canadian College of Shiatsu Therapy expects to gain a foothold in the growing involvement of organizations with the 2010 Winter Olympics.  In cooperation with the Canadian Shiatsu Society of BC we hope to popularize the true Shiatsu throughout Canada, North America, and the world. We welcome everyone who is would like to join us in this activity.