Namikoshi Shiatsu Therapy History

Creator of Namikoshi Shiatsu - Tokujiro Namikoshi (1905 - 2000)

Tokujiro Namikoshi, the creator of Namikoshi Shiatsu Therapy, was born on November 3, 1905 . At the age of seven, he, with his entire family, moved as settlers from the warm climate of the Seto Inland Sea to the severe setting of the northern Japanese Island Hokkaido .

On the day after they had completed their long and gruelling journey, Tokujiro's mother suddenly began to complain of pain in her knees. Everyone first thought it was as a result of their journey and failed to take the ailment seriously; but as time passed the pain grew worse and spread to her ankles, wrists, elbows and shoulders, to become what is now called multiple rheumatism of the joints.

There was no doctor in village where they lived and no medicine was available.

As the children could not bear to watch their mother suffer they took turns stroking and pressing the parts of her body that hurt. Gradually their mother began to suffer less and she frequently said to Tokujiro, "your hands feel best", this praise encouraged the boy to work harder in treating his mother. Though he was ignorant of physiology or anatomy, his sensitive hands and fingers sensed differences in the skin condition, heat and stiffness; and he adjusted his pressing to these variations and over time discovered that the most effective method was to use 80 percent pressure and 20 percent rubbing.

Since he had been pressing on both sides of the sides of the middle region of the spine, unknowingly he had been stimulating the suprarenal body to secrete cortisone, which cures rheumatism. Ultimately, he brought about a complete cure; and this process of unenlightened experimentation taught him the powers of self-cure built into the human organism. This was the birth of his system of shiatsu.

After surmounting various difficulties in his study of amma massage and western style massage, in 1925 Tokujiro Namikoshi opened the Shiatsu Institute of Therapy on Hokkaido . Over a period of time, some of the patients became students and in 1933 leaving the school in their charge he went to Tokyo to open another shiatsu institute. His devotion to this task finally resulted in the establishment of the Japan Shiatsu Institute on February 11, 1940 .

In 1955, after the end of World War II, General Douglas McArthur, with authority, directed the Japanese Health Ministry to research the 300 unregulated therapies in Japan . His instruction was to the effect that only those therapies that could prove scientific clinical ability would be approved.


From left to right - Michiya Urakawa, Tokujiro Namikoshi, Hiroko Urakawa

Namikoshi Shiatsu, one of the three hundred was the only therapy that passed this approval process and therefore was legally approved in the year 1955 (unfortunately as part of amma massage). In 1957 the minister of health and welfare, under the new name the Japan Shiatsu School , officially licensed the Institute. It is the first and only school in the country conducting specialist education in this field. In 1964, shiatsu was at last recognised as distinct and independent from amma and other forms of massage.

More than twenty thousand specialists have graduated from the Namikoshi School , and only 200 have received the status of 'Master'. Tokujiro Namikoshi will always be remembered as the 'Grand Master' and the man responsible for making 'Shiatsu' and household word within Japan and also introducing shiatsu to the western world.

Today Namikoshi Shiatsu is practiced within Japan , America , Canada , Spain , Italy , Holland , Argentina and Australia . Recognised Schools operate within Japan , Canada , Spain , Italy and Melbourne - Australia (refer Masters M & H Urakawa Shiatsu Academy ).

The International Shiatsu Association (I.S.A.) was formed to promote the internationalisation of authentic shiatsu therapy founded by Mr. Tokujiro Namikoshi. Its other purposes are to promote the global education of authentic shiatsu through training, to promote the official certification of shiatsu therapy by the public agencies of countries around the world and it shall contribute to the well being of humanity and world peace through the practice of shiatsu and increased international exchange of the people - an extremely worthwhile organisation.

Branches of this association have been formed within the countries where Namikoshi Shiatsu is practiced to ensure the purposes of the association are encouraged.

Hiroko Urakawa's profil and article was reported in "Pointers Spring 2007", newsjournal of the Shiatsu Therapy Association of Australia. (PDF File:600k)

Reported by Sandra Dexter


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Final Update; 2011.07.16