Shiatsu of Namikoshi and Masunaga


Shiatsu being applied to the Yu points.

Shiatsu (pronounced shee-at-soo, from shi, meaning finger, and atsu, meaning pressure), originated in Japan and was recognised, by the Japanese Government, as a separate and distinct therapy. The first known reference to shiatsu is thought to have been in the 1915 book, by Tenpaku Tamai, Shiatsu Ryoho.

According to the Japanese medical department of the Ministry of Welfare –  “Shiatsu technique refers to the use of fingers and palm of one’s hand to apply pressure to particular sections on the surface of the body for the purpose of correcting the imbalances of the body, and for maintaining and promoting health. It is also a method contributing to the healing of specific illnesses.” — December, 1957.


There are two main schools of Shiatsu: Namikoshi style and Masunaga (Zen) style.


Namikoshi Style

In 1940, Tokujiro Namikoshi founded the Japan Shiatsu College and systematised a form of shiatsu therapy based on Western anatomy and physiology. Namikoshi’s system of shiatsu is defined by the application of pressure using the fingers, palms the thumbs on points that are related to the central and autonomic nervous systems with the aim of preventing and curing illness by stimulating the body’s natural powers of recuperation and promoting general good health.

Diagnosis and treatment are combined with the hands and fingers of the therapists being sensitive enough to detect abnormalities in the skin or muscles, or body heat on contact, being able to pinpoint these irregularities and determine a treatment plan.

Holistic in nature, Namikoshi Shiatsu treats the whole body as well as focusing on any localised areas that require additional attention.


Masunaga, or Zen, Style

Zen Shiatsu was developed by Shizuto Masunaga (1925 – 1981) who was born into a family of Shiatsu practitioners. After graduating in Psychology from Kyoto University, he went on to graduate from the Japan Shiatsu College (1959) and went on to teach Psychology at there. Masunaga studied traditional shiatsu methods alongside the classic oriental medical texts, integrating these with western psychology. Masunaga went on to open his own Shiatsu school in Tokyo, the Iokai Shiatsu Centre. He integrated the traditional methods with western physiology, and went on to develop the extension of the classical meridians to cover the whole body along with a coherent theory to back his approach.

Masanuga, recognized extensions of the acupuncture channels in the arms and legs (known as the supplementary meridians). He thought that shiatsu should be holistic and involve the whole body. Zen Shiatsu requires the practitioner to be focused and sensitive to the Ki, and use both hands during treatment, the “mother” hand providing support and connection while the other hand treats by applying pressure to the tsubos (points).

In both styles the essence of shiatsu is that diagnosis and Treatment are combined.

Shiatsu was one of the eight disciplines named in the Collins Report adopted by the European Parliament in 1997 (European Parliament 1997) which called for steps to regulate complementary therapy practice.


Some of the conditions that respond well to Shiatsu:

  • Headaches
  • Migraine
  • Back Ache
  • Stiffness
  • Neck & Shoulder Pain
  • Panic Attacks
  • Palpitations
  • Stress
  • Digestive Disorders

Shiatsu is done at floor level on a futon mat. The recipient remains fully clothed and loose, comfortable, clothing preferably should be worn.


Therapist info

Shiatsu neck stretch technique.

If you wish your website to be included on this page please see our Resources Page for details.




Lifelines, Dingwall

Jane Harper, Cornwall

Pro Holistic Shiatsu, Lanarkshire Pro Holistic provide Shatsu, Sports Injury treatment, Stress Management & Qigong form their clinic in East Kilbride.




Further information on Shiatsu including case studies, etc.

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Please note that makes no guarantee regarding the validity, efficacy, or safety of any therapy and we advise that medical advice should be sought from a qualified medical practitioner regarding any illness. is not responsible for the credentials, qualifications and insurance status of any of the therapists who have links from this site and we advise that these should be checked before any treatment is undertaken.

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