shiatsu therapy, shiatsu massage cupping, moxabustrion


Shizuto Masunaga


The method of bodywork or external therapy called Shiatsu was first developed one hundred years ago by a man named Tokujiro Namikoshi, who lived on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. While in his youth Tokujiro’s mother, Masa, developed rheumatism of the joints. There was no doctor in the village where they lived, and no medicine was available. So Masa’s children would take turns stroking, rubbing, and pressing the joints that hurt her.

Gradually Masa’s rheumatism began to get better and hurt her much less. She frequently told Tokujiro that his hands worked best. He became the favourite choice and began to establish a treatment pattern that afforded his mother the most relief and eventually succeeded in a complete cure. This encouraged him to go on to study the more ancient form of Japanese massage called anma and also to study the Western form of Massage therapy. However he felt that these systems were incomplete and in 1925 he established the Shiatsu Institute of Therapy in Hokkaido.

After success in Hokkaido he left the school in the charge of his former students and moved to Tokyo where in 1940 he opened the Japan Shiatsu Institute. There he worked, studied and taught, and in 1955 Shiatsu became a legally approved form of therapy. Over the next fifty years Shiatsu’s reputation as a powerful and effective form of external therapy would spread around the world.

Shizuto Masunaga was born in 1925, in Hiroshima. He attended the University of Kyoto and graduated from the psychology department. Then shortly after he began to study in the field of Shiatsu. He became an instructor in Namikoshi’s school the Japan Shiatsu Institute where he remained for ten years. Masunaga established himself as a leader in the Shiatsu discipline with a hand in the creation of the therapy’s style, practice, and theory. He incorporated the classical meridians of Chinese Medicine, adding to them the six extensions into the arms and six into the legs. He also established the third principle, the use of the compassion or mother hand, shown through the application of supporting pressure. Shizuto Masunaga also was the first to establish a theory for the practice of Shiatsu and began the form known as Zen Shaitsu.


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