Evolution of Shiatsu


The roots of shiatsu are ancient…

…however, in the twentieth century, with all manner of things in states of rapid change, there arose a need to define shiatsu in a way intelligible to western science, and as previously stated, Shiatsu was not fully accepted officially, until 1964.

Tokujiru Namikoshi, the “father” of modern-day shiatsu.


“The hert of shiatsu is like mother’s love. Pressure of the finger causes the spring of life to flow.”

Tokujiro Namikoshi.

As a boy, Tokujiro Namikoshi discovered that by using a simple thumb pressing technique, he was able to heal his mother of rheumatoid arthritis.

This experience sparked a life-long devotion to exploring, developing and refining his techniques.

He worked diligently, persistently, and long, to have Shiatsu officially acknowledged, in a culture which had turned away from traditional methods, which were seen as outdated and unscientific, towards the technology revolution.

Finally, in 1964 Shiatsu was officially defined, and at last accepted as a distinct form of therapy by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Japan.

Tokujiro Namikoshi was a smart man, a little man with well developed thumbs! who was also the president of the Laughter Club of Japan, and he realized that the only way to get through the official party line was to meet it where it lay.

He brought his son Toru to North America where he spent eight years working with B.J. Palmer, one of the major developers of the Chiropractic profession.

On his return to Japan, Shiatsu was presented as a neuromuscular therapy, and Shiatsu was accorded, at last, official recognition, having now been ‘scientifically’ verified.

Tokujiro Namikoshi by Kensen Saito

Asian Bodywork Therapies (Shiatsu)

What goes around comes around…





For an understanding of the ways in which Shiatsu has evolved, please see the following articles.

Shizuto Masunaga 1925-1981
Shizuto Masunaga, 1925-1981

The Legacy of Shizuto Masunaga

Homage to Masunaga

Here is rare footage of a master at work (from a workshop in Toronto, Canada in the late 1970’s).

Tetsuro Saito: Canada's "Father" of Shiatsu
Tetsuro Saito: Canada's "Father" of Shiatsu


Tetsuro Saito: Canada’s “Father” of  Shiatsu

This is not the complete story.

Shiatsu continues to evolve as consciousness expands.

Shi - Atsu, meaning finger pressure 


Published by Robin Grant, RMT Registered Massage & Shiatsu Therapy

Robin Grant, RMT. LST. I am a Registered Massage Therapist with a clinical focus on Shiatsu Therapy, Reflexology and Qigong (Chi Kung) Mindful Movement Exercise . I have more than 25 years experience in helping a wide range of clients to de-stress and to connect with their innate self healing abilities - Passionate practitioner, instructor and lively public speaker.

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