A Brief History of Shiatsu Asian Massage

Shiatsu Asian is a type of massage therapy that can relax tired muscles, help you unwind, and leave you feeling more energized. The expert masseuses at Garden Retreat Spa can educate you on the techniques and help you determine whether Shiatsu massage is right for you. Here is a brief history of Shiatsu Asian massage: 

How Shiatsu Asian Massage Began

Shiatsu massage has its roots in Japan, where it began centuries ago. Shiatsu techniques developed from a Japanese massage style called Amma, which came from a Chinese massage style called Tui Na. Tui Na, also called Tuina, was first introduced in Japan around 700 A.D. This Chinese Asian massage technique involves applying rhythmic pressure to the body. The masseuse would roll, knead, rub, and press with their fingers and hands to help the muscles relax.

Once Tui Na was introduced in Japan, it wasn’t long before it was modified to include more than just the hands and fingers. Masseuses also began using fists and elbows to massage the patient. By the 1300s, this modified massage technique was known as Amma. Akashi Kan Ichi, a massage therapist and physician, recognized it as a separate modality. Hospitals throughout Japan often used massage as part of patient treatments during this period, which led to the development of new techniques. 

Amma continued to develop and gain popularity, especially during the 1600s. Sugiyama Waichi, a well-known blind physician and acupuncturist, used the technique on his patients, and because of his experience, other blind massage therapists would learn this technique. Because massage therapy was one of the only ways for blind people blind to earn an income, the Japanese government often limited the use of Shiatsu massage to therapists who were blind. 

How Shiatsu Developed

Amma massage continued to develop and was refined by those who practiced its techniques. Around the turn of the 20th century, Tenpeki Temai was the first to use the term Shiatsu to define the new technique in a massage manual he wrote. The manual described this finger-pressure massage technique. Shiatsu massage of the early 1900s continued to develop before it became what it is today, where only finger pressure is used on pressure points.

One of the primary contributors to modern Shiatsu was a young boy named Takujiro Namikoshi. He used his own form of massage on his mother to heal her rheumatism. He continued to perform massages until he was arrested for illegally practicing massage without a license. Namikoshi eventually trained in Shiatsu to become licensed. He then started combining his own massage style with Amma to create the modern version of Shiatsu. This type of massage differed from others because it only used finger pressure instead of the combination of elbows, fists, and knees. 

By 1940, Namikoshi had built a school to teach the Shiatsu technique. In just four years, his school trained more than 1,000 students. Namikoshi also traveled outside of Japan to teach Shiatsu massage in the U.S. and other areas. When Marilyn Monroe was treated for her insomnia with the Japanese massage technique, it brought Shiatsu to the Western world’s attention. Other celebrities also used Shiatsu for various health concerns, which increased the fame of the massage technique. Shiatsu masseuses soon built schools in the U.S. to teach students this form of Japanese massage. 

How Modern Asian Massage Has Developed

Shiatsu is practiced worldwide today but is especially popular in the U.S. and Western Europe. This massage style has developed different forms based on the unique techniques of various practitioners. One of these forms is Zen Shiatsu, which involves working with the patient’s breathing. Another form is Shiatsu Amma Therapy, which combines light finger pressure on pressure points with deeper tissue work. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine recognizes that six forms of Shiatsu exist today, each with unique aspects. Only licensed massage therapists can use Shiatsu on patients. 

Today’s Asian massage techniques blend modern approaches with ancient styles. This often features a combination of deep tissue massage and lighter finger pressure. Many therapists combine the pressure-point targeting techniques of Shiatsu massage with the gentle strokes of Swedish massage. While Swedish massage developed in the European country of Sweden, many massueses incorporate it with other Asian massage styles. This is done to create an even more modern and beneficial massage experience. Many of Garden Retreat Spa’s New York clients request a combination of these two styles for a more encompassing Asian massage experience. 

Enjoy a Personalized Asian Massage With Garden Retreat Spa

Garden Retreat Spa can personalize your massage treatment to help you unwind and feel rejuvenated. At our spa, you can choose from a combination of Shiatsu, Swedish, and other Asian techniques for your personalized massage. We provide clean, private rooms to improve your comfort during your massage. Schedule your massage session today to experience the benefits of Shiatsu massage.