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Lokai Shiatsu Style (keiraku to shiatsu)of Shizuto Masunaga

Lokai Shiatsu style article image.

I met "Five Lights Center" about three years ago when I was asked to collaborate on two of their online meetings organized every Saturday with speakers from all over the world; so I proposed two evenings about back and abdomen diagnosis areas drawn on "Shiatsu Meridian Chart" by Shizuto Masunaga. Those two meetings were very pleasant because, together with Kumiko Kanayama, the founder of the Centre, two shiatsu practitioners had participated in Shizuto Masunaga's seminars in America and Canada, so we exchanged some opinions on this original style of shiatsu.

Kumiko Kanayama then asked me, as a shiatsu teacher, to write an article for their blog. In this article, I will limit myself to pointing out the basic points of Keiraku shiatsu that mainly interested me and changed my way of teaching and spreading shiatsu.

The Meridians Perception:

Shizuto Masunaga zen shiatsu image
Shizuto Masunaga

The topic that involved me most while practicing, reading Masunaga's books, and following various workshōps held by his son Haruhiko sensei in Italy and Japan is the possibility that we all have to feel and perceive by touching in a natural way the energetic flow through the path of the meridian, feeling its resonance and making the diagnosis.

This, as Kishi writes in his book “Life in Resonance – the secret art of Shiatsu”, was the main reason that led some Japanese students and practitioners to follow Shizuto Masunaga in the 1960s to the Iokai center he founded.

Shiatsu is a simple act that allows one to energetically understand the meridian thanks to the sensation and not through knowledge of the paths seen on the maps. In Masunaga Shiatsu style, thanks to the work done by him and his collaborators, it is possible to feel meridians with perception.

lokai shiatsu meridians

In Japanese Iokai shiatsu schools, the path of the meridians is not taught by showing the "Shiatsu Meridian Chart" or leafing through the meridians’ atlas with anatomical references, but by holding the thumb on a point (tsubo) and looking for the connection with another point on the meridian. Once the two points (or a point with the thumb and an area with the palm of the hand) have been connected, we can perceive the energy flow, the path of the meridian and its resonance (Hibiki), rebalancing the energy flow with the kyo-jitsu technique. This work, by connecting two points with grasp pressure, can also allow to reduction of pain by holding the thumb or palm on the pain.

The Diagnosis (shō and kyo-jitsu):

To make a correct diagnosis in Keiraku shiatsu it is necessary to know its most important principles: the supporting pressure, the use of the two hands, the practitioner’s attitude (which we could define as “Zen”), and the necessity to create a common empathic space between practitioner and receiver.

Touch acts not only on the body but also on people's hearts and allows the shiatsu practitioner to make an Eastern diagnosis, which is not only physical but also includes the mental part (body-mind-spirit).

Eastern diagnosis, as Shizuto Masunaga writes in his books, is different from Western diagnosis, which is concerned with giving a name to the disease and works by evaluating the symptoms without treating the cause at the root.

Shizuto Masunaga created a simple way to make the shō (diagnosis). In kanpō, Japanese medicine of Chinese origin, the diagnosis includes four evaluations: bōshin by sight, bunshin by listening, monshin by verbal investigation, and setsushin by touching; the latter, for shiatsu, is the most important.

Ki, the energy flow that runs in our body, is subjected to disharmonies due to both internal and external factors which manifest themselves in the meridians with areas or points (openings) that are empty (kyo) or full (jitsu). To rebalance the energy it is necessary, as in all Eastern manual techniques, to tone the areas in deficiency (kyo) and to disperse the areas in excess (jitsu).

In Masunaga shiatsu, thanks to the supporting pressure, it is possible to tone the areas in deficiency and disperse the areas in excess decreasing or eliminating the symptoms, but this can be a temporary solution; in every disorder, in fact, there is a mental/psychic component and, to obtain a lasting result, we must rebalance the body-mind of the receiver, considering ki and shen accordingly to Eastern philosophy.

Shiatsu Meridian Chart

To do this, Masunaga helps by identifying areas on the abdomen and back that reflect the energetic situation, creating what he calls the "Shiatsu Meridian Chart". With his particular vision of the kyo-jitsu technique (toning and dispersion), we can evaluate and proceed with a physical and mental energetic rebalancing of the receiver, evaluating the excess or deficiency of energy in the areas shown in the "Shiatsu Meridian Chart".

The Research: We must thank the numerous students of Shizuto Masunaga who spread this original style into the world and in particular Wataru Ohashi, who allowed the publication of the book "Zen Shiatsu" in various languages at the end of the 1970s, encouraging the diffusion of the shiatsu style of the sensei.

Since 2011, after meeting Keiko Masunaga, Shizuto's wife, and her son Haruhiko in Japan, I decided to edit the translation (into Italian and English, soon also in French) and publication of some Shizuto Masunaga’s writings to spread the original Iokai shiatsu.

This work allowed me to know the Master's path and his wish to create a shiatsu faithful to Eastern medicine. In particular, in “Keiraku to shiatsu” (published by Shiatsu Milano Editore and translated into Italian by Mayu Fanny Suzuki and Manuela Perardi), a collection of articles written by Masunaga in 1965-80s, we can study in depth Iokai shiatsu basis. For example, the discovery of the acupuncture meridian path’s extension and the kyo-jitsu theory linked to yin-yang to illustrate meridians and related organs’ functions, scientifically explained with the amoeba cycle.

In the book “Tales of 100 Treatments” (translated into Italian by Mayu Fanny Suzuki and Akiko Emori and available also in English), we can observe Shizuto Masunaga’s human sensitivity and professionalism. As we know, the sensei was a psychologist and, in the research to create his style of shiatsu, psychology played an important role, as he underlines in “Keiraku to shiatsu”: “In psychology treatment, we don’t have to forget spirituality and in psychotherapy the most important thing is the doctor-patient relationship”.


About The Author:

Author image of Roberto

Roberto Palasciano:

Director of studies for International Shiatsu School – Italy, Milan location, and founder/curator of Shiatsu Milano Editore publishing house.

Shizuto Masunaga’s books published in English by Shiatsu Milano Editore (available in paper book and eBook):

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Roberto. Thanks for an eloquent testimony to Masuanga's legacy. Such a reminder to honor our roots.

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