(Investigator 1994, 2020 September)


The word shiatsu is derived from the Japanese words shi, which means finger, and atsu, which means Pressure.

It is believed to have originated with Chinese Taoist monks 5000 years ago, when it was observed that there was an instinctive urge to press or hold an injured body part to relieve pain.

Although originally called Tien-Yinn, the roots of Shiatsu were recorded nearly 3000 years ago during the Yellow Emperor's Dynasty along with the first mention of acupuncture.

Introduced into Japan about the sixth century A.D., it remained under the control of Buddhist monks until Western allopathic medicine was introduced in the early part of the last century.

Shiatsu fell into disuse until 1930 when Dr. Tkujiro Namikoshi revived the practice and founded the Nippon Shiatsu Institute. It is now accepted by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare as an authorised health treatment.


The theory is the same as in acupuncture and acuPressure. Invisible neural trigger points or zones are located on the meridians or energy pathways where blood vessels, lymph vessels, and ductless glands of the endocrine system tend to concentrate or branch. Pressure exerted on these points is claimed to remove energy blocks.


By palpating (examining by feeling) the abdomen and other areas, the practitioner diagnoses the patient's condition to determine the type of therapy required. Pressure is then applied for a few seconds using the fingers, knuckles, hands, elbows, knees or feet. This may be accompanied by a little massage or manipulation of various parts of the body.


Any form of gentle massage will help reduce muscular tension. However, any suggestion that this type of modality is efficacious in treating anything other than stress related problems is suspect. There is no scientific or medical support for the existence of meridians or acupoints.


Clark, Barbara. 1987. Jun Shin Acutouch: The Tai Chi of Healing Arts, Clark Publishing Co., San Diego, CA.

Blake, M. 1977. The Natural Healer's Acupressure Book. NY.

Chan. P. 1976. Finger Acupressure. Ballantine. New York.

Chang. S.T. 1976. The Complete Book of Acupuncture. Celestial Arts Books. (Milbrae, CA.)

Mann, Felix. 1985. Acupuncture. Pan Books, London.

 __________        The Ancient Art of Healing. London. William Heinemann Medical Books.

___________ 1977 Scientific Aspects of Acupuncture. London. William Heinemann Medical Books.

Moyers, Bill. 1993. Healing and the Mind. Doubleday.

Namikoshi, Toru. 1974. Shiatsu Therapy, Theory and Practice, Japan Publications Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

Porkert, M. 1978. The Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicines. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.

Stalker, D. and Glymour, C. 1985. Examining Holistic Medicine. Prometheus Books. Buffalo. New York.

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National Institute of Health.1975. Acupuncture Anaesthesia. Bethesda, MD.

Skrabanek, P. 1984. "Acupuncture and the Age of Unreason." The Lancet 1:1169-71

From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics Inc.