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Acupuncture: The Japanese Way
Japan has been world-renowned for its breakthroughs in electronics. Need proof? Just take a look at all the cellular phones and other technological gadgets around you with Japanese brands. In terms of medical breakthroughs though, Japan is definitely not lagging behind. For centuries now, traditional Japanese healing arts have been used to address root causes of many diseases, restore balance and maintain overall health. Examples of these ancient arts are moxibustion, shiatsu and acupuncture. For this article, we will focus on the Japanese style of acupuncture.
First, let us talk about what acupuncture is. Starting more than two thousand years ago, acupuncture is a branch of medicine practiced worldwide both as a primary and adjunctive treatment for a wide range of health conditions. With thousands of years of research and practice backing it up, the basic method of acupuncture is to insert needles in various parts of the body to relieve pain and treat diseases. Different types of the practice exist in all parts of the world, each with various styles and applications.
While acupuncture has its roots in China, Japan gave this medical practice its own twist, which was accepted immediately in the world of medicine. The general concept of Japanese acupuncture is using the least amount of stimulation to create the greatest effect in the patient. As opposed to traditional Chinese medicine, Japanese acupuncture uses thinner needles that are barely thicker than human hair. These needles are inserted in the body not deeper than 1 or 2 millimeters, if they are inserted at all. Less points and stimulation is basically the trick. Hence, the Japanese technique demands much greater care and precision than the Chinese technique, making it a challenge to the practitioner but an advantage to the patient because of the reduced pain. The Japanese style of acupuncture also requires more training than the traditional Chinese medicine.
While there are the general rules, different styles in the Japanese practice exist as well. Examples are the two methods developed by two acupuncture legends of the twentieth century: Yoshio Manaka and Kodo Fukushima. Manaka is a surgeon who has developed an effective and versatile form of Japanese acupuncture therapy. Fukushima, an active pacifist, refined the non-inserted needling techniques which have become known as “toyohari”.
Toyohari is a refined system of Japanese meridian therapy. It is different from other types of acupuncture in the sense than it uses more delicate and specialized needling treatment methods. Focusing on the use of pulse diagnosis and palpation skills, the theoretical foundation of Toyohari is based on the classic medical theories of Nei Jing, Su Wen, Ling Shu and Nan Jing.
Here’s a bit of history: Considered one of the main pillars in Japanese acupuncture is Waichi Sugiyama, or the “blind acupuncturist”. Upon his death in 1964, Sugiyama has developed 100 acupuncture techniques and has established 45 acupuncture schools for the blind in Japan. Through books read to him, he has studied and simplified volumes of ancient medical texts in his goal to make medical knowledge more accessible to the blind.
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