Interview by Monika Knaden to Haruhiko Masunaga

For several years now, Haruhiko Masunaga has been carrying on the legacy of his father Shizuto Masunaga and teaching Iokai Shiatsu throughout the world. In return, the world of Shiatsu has been watching closely to see how he would cope, such was the enormity of the task. At the last European Shiatsu Congress, held in September 2023 in Kiental, I had the pleasure of chatting with him and asking him some questions. At first sight, he’s a reserved, almost discreet man, but once we’ve got past the initial exchanges, he shows great calm and inner strength when we broach the subject of Shiatsu. One thing is certain now: he fully embraces his heritage, and his teaching is of a high quality that continues to improve with time.
This interview is a first, as it was prepared with Monika Knaden of the German Shiatsu Journal, of which she is the editor-in-chief. The interview took place behind closed doors, in German and Japanese, conducted by Monika and Ivan Bel, with translator Mami Kawa and Bénédicte Séguin recording the audio and taking the photos. It was one of the highlights of the Congress to be able to talk and listen to the man who has undoubtedly become one of the world’s great Shiatsu teachers.

M. Knaden: Haruhiko Sensei, only long after your father’s death did you became his successor. Who was key for your training in Shiatsu?

H. Masunaga: I have often been asked this question. Unfortunately, people often don’t quite understand what I exactly meant by my answers. I didn’t have a direct teacher who personally taught me Shiatsu. If Shiatsu would only consist of technique, there would have to be a master. But in Zen Shiatsu, it is not only the technique that is important, but more the attitude. Naturally, I have followed my father’s footsteps and tried to include his teaching. What he taught as Zen Shiatsu, I also teach and practice. My father died when I was 19 years old, so I didn’t had the opportunity to learn Shiatsu directly from him. There are three main reasons why I am still able to work as a Shiatsu practitioner (in his spirit).
As a child I often received Shiatsu treatments from my father. That was an impressive experience. I have six other siblings, but I was the one who received the most of the Shiatsu from my father. When I started to learn Shiatsu, my body remembered: “Ah, this is the Shiatsu I received”. I see this as a great treasure and my heritage. Of course, I also experienced to some extent his daily life and his personality. He lived almost like an ascetic monk and strove to reduce his own ego. I have never actually seen him come home from work and say today it was a good day or today it was very exhausting. The moment he came home, the atmosphere in the house became like a Zen temple. Of course, that was very stressful for me when I was growing up, when I went to middle school and later to high school. I think I felt that special kind of atmosphere more than my siblings.
My father wrote several books and numerous articles. I brought some of the original books with me to Kiental. But it is just a selection, he wrote more than ten books. And all about his way of seeing Shiatsu can be found in them! This red book here has been translated into other languages, including German, under the title “Zen Shiatsu”. But it is the only one and I would like to see his other books translated into German as well.
My teachers are my patients. When I give treatments every day, it sometimes goes well and sometimes not so well. In both cases, I look for the “why” and I have found that in the treatment where things didn’t go so well, I was unable to let go of my ego. My father also used to say that the best training as a Shiatsu practitioner is to treat patients. I think that since I have a lot of practice in treating patients myself, I have at least come a little closer to what my father experienced.

M. Knaden: Are there any other texts by your father that shed more light on his thoughts on Shiatsu and should be translated into German?

H. Masunaga: His book “Zen Shiatsu” is a book that all Zen Shiatsu practitioners should have read. Unfortunately, what he has written in it is not enough to fully understand Zen Shiatsu. He has written several other books, each unique in its own way, and they are published again and again. In one book, called “Tales of 100 treatments”, he explains not only techniques used in Shiatsu, but also what he has experienced in treatments and the importance of selflessness in Zen Shiatsu. There are French and Italian translations of this book and now also an English edition. There should also be a German translation. The book is intended for interested citizens, not only for professional Shiatsu practitioners. It is very soulfull. If you understand everything in this book, you are already in a position to practice Zen Shiatsu.
My father has also written articles for several specialist periodicals. These are summarized in a book. The title is “Meridians and Shiatsu” (jap. “Keiraku to Shiatsu”). It is not easy to understand, but it was his typical way of writing. I also recommend my students to read this book, but almost all of them tell me that they have great difficulty in understanding it. But it is definitely worth reading. It also deals with TCM. My father was able to read old medical classics that were published in China 2000 years ago in the original. He also wrote explanations of these ancient writings in this book. I very much hope that there will be a German translation at some point. There is also a French and Italian edition. I can’t say to what extent they have been translated correctly.
He has also produced a book edition for interested people who want to learn Shiatsu by remote learning. So far I have only given my seminars in Iōkai, but there are also people who live outside Tokyo who want to learn Shiatsu.

M. Knaden: Do you see yourself as the sole keeper and propagator of your father’s legacy or have you also developed Shiatsu further based on the experience of your long practice?

H. Masunaga: Well, many people can’t understand that, they think that after 40 years there must be of course a further development. But my opinion is that my father created a foundation or original teaching with Zen Shiatsu, so I can’t develop it further or give it a different interpretation. I haven’t reached my father’s level of mastery either, and I want to maintain what he taught.
My father even said himself: “My Shiatsu is complete!” He has healed some patients that the doctors had already given up. He also said quite directly that he can see the meridians. I’ve finally got to the point where I can feel the meridians, but I still can’t see the meridians like my father. So, since I haven’t yet reached my father’s level, how can I develop my not so yet perfect Shiatsu? My great wish is, even if I don’t know how long I will live, that I can see what my father saw.

M. Knaden: How do you see the development of Shiatsu in Japan? Is Shiatsu established as a complementary therapy in Japanese society?

H. Masunaga: That’s a good question. I think the time has come for Japanese Shiatsu to be saved. This means that unfortunately the younger generation has no interest in Shiatsu. Shiatsu is a state-certified therapy in Japan and so young people study at a Shiatsu college for three years, full-time. After their training, they can call themselves Shiatsu-shi (shi = honorary title for expert craftsman, note of translator). But unfortunately not many people are interested in it any more. Even the general public today no longer knows what Shiatsu actually is, and the number of Shiatsu practitioners has decreased accordingly.
The reason for this lies in Japan’s medical system after the Second World War and in Western conventional medicine. There is a tendency in Japan that if there is no scientific basis, people will not accept an alternative therapy.
When my father was involved in Shiatsu, it was really flourishing. At that time, many people thought that Shiatsu was a treatment method to relieve tension and to massage certain areas. But my father strongly believed that shiatsu could do more than that, and that it was also good for sick people who could be treated with it, but not with strong pressure. At that time, Anma was already no longer seen as a medical treatment, but only as relaxation and wellness. My father predicted that this would also be the case for Shiatsu. In fact, it turned out that way and he was right. I actually prefer not to talk about it.

M. Knaden: How do you see the development of Shiatsu in the West?

H. Masunaga: I was at the opening ceremony of this congress this morning. I was of course very pleased that so many people attended, and compared to the situation in Japan it is also very enviable. I would have liked to ask why so many people are interested in Shiatsu. However, people in Europe should also be aware that Shiatsu was originated from Japan and get to know its origins.

M. Knaden: Will the Iōkai Institute continue to exist in the next generation?

H. Masunaga: That’s also a difficult question. I’m now over 60 and I’m currently training young people in Shiatsu at Iōkai Institute. They are interested, but it is particularly important for them to learn how Shiatsu can have such an effect and why some patients can be healed through Shiatsu. But it’s difficult for them to understand and assimilate my Shiatsu.
I have 7 children. It’s a secret in Japan (smiles mischievously). They are all working, but unfortunately, none of them are interested in Shiatsu. I don’t want to push them to continue with the Iōkai Institute. It has to come from them wanting to learn and teach Shiatsu, I don’t force it.
When my father became so ill, there were many people who thought he should find a successor. He wasn’t approached directly about it, but people went to my mother first. She then asked my father and he said to her it wasn’t that important. It would be decided at some point. And… It was a long road and it took a long time before I finally took on this task. Now it’s a big challenge for me to see how things will continue with Iōkai.

M. Knaden: Thank you very much for the interview!

Published with kind permission of Monika Knaden and the German Shiatsu Journal


intervista a Roberto Palasciano


Translations of Grandmaster Masunaga with Roberto Palasciano

Join us live with Roberto Palasciano of Shiatsu Milano Editore and Director International School of Shiatsu Italy. Sharing is great translations of Grandmaster Masuna manuals and personal experience collaborating with his Son Haruhiko Masunaga. Here are the links to get the manuals and translations:https://www.shiatsumilanoeditore.it/english-articles/about-us/https://store.streetlib.com/it/search?publisher=SHIATSU%20MILANO%20EDITORE�Please share this with others and if you have any questions share in the comments.#Shiatsutherapy, #zenshiatsu #masunage

Pubblicato da Mihael Mamychshvili su Martedì 29 settembre 2020

I libri di Shizuto Masunaga


Shizuto Masunaga, during his lifetime, wrote many books and texts and collaborated with several Japanese natural medicine journals. Unfortunately, only a few of these writings have been published in Western languages also due to the difficulties of translation, given the author’s deep knowledge of Western and Eastern medicine and philosophy, psychology and religion.
For the spread of Keiraku shiatsu in the world was important the publication in English, in 1977, of the book “Zen Shiatsu”, translated by Wataru Ohashi from the original Japanese “Shiatsu”, followed by translations into other languages (also in Italian, in 1979, edited by Edizioni Mediterranee).
The translation of “Zen Exercises” in English followed, published in Italian in 1996 as “Zen per immagini” by Edizioni Mediterranee. These books are only a fragment of Masunaga’s work but for many western students, until recently, they were the only texts available to learn the fundamentals of Keiraku shiatsu.
In recent years, the French publisher “Le Courrier du livre” translated and published “Shiatsu et Médecine Orientale” (from the original Japanese “Keiraku to shiatsu”, shiatsu and meridians) and “100 Récits du Traitement” (“Tales of 100 treatments”). I also consider important the work done by Maria Silvia Parolin and Hatsuni Ueda, who translated into Italian ” Manuale di Sesshin ” (2007, Macunix editions).

Currently, Iokai Center in Tokyo is directed by Haruhiko Masunaga, son of Shizuto, who continues teaching and spreading his father’s shiatsu, in Japan and abroad. In 2011 I went to Tokyo to see the reality of Iokai Center and attend a short course for foreigners held by Haruhiko Masunaga.
During the lessons, I noticed that Haruhiko consulted his father’s books “Tales of 100 treatments” and “Shiatsu manuals”, also used as textbooks for basic and advanced courses at Iokai. Under license from Keiko and Haruhiko Masunaga, I decided to have these volumes translated into Italian and published as Shiatsu Milano Editore, the publishing house I had just founded to spread bio-natural disciplines.
These translations were made possible thanks to the collaboration with our Japanese shiatsuka Akiko Emori, our official translator Mayu Fanny Suzuki and the consultation of Tsuya Yamada and Manuela Perardi.

Masunaga Shiatsu ManualsThe first “face to face” with Masunaga’s original writings was the translation of “Tales of 100 treatments”. It is a collection of articles published in the Japanese magazine “Ningen-Igaku”, fifty-eight of the hundred expected because, unfortunately, Shizuto Masunaga died of disease before completing them. These stories are autobiographical and, as Keiko Masunaga wrote us in a letter:
“Unlike other texts written by Masunaga sensei, “Tales of 100 treatments” is a very particular and important book because it deals intensely with the idea and philosophy of Keiraku shiatsu, from the point of view and lifestyle adopted by Masunaga sensei”.
Later, from 2014 to 2016, we translated and published “Shiatsu Manuals”, divided into 1st, 2nd, Masunaga Shiatsu Manuals 23rd and 4th month. These volumes, although they contain some topics and sequences already expressed in “Zen shiatsu”, expand and detail the fundamental contents and techniques of Keiraku shiatsu. Upon request of Haruhiko Masunaga, to make the importance of these manuals known, we have begun their publication in English, currently in ebook format. Thanks to the numerous requests, we are also considering to publish a paper version.
Given the reach and value of Shizuto Masunaga’s writings, and always to spread the original Keiraku shiatsu, we have also translated “Keiraku to shiatsu” 1st volume, the second will shortly be available.
Other books would deserve to be translated into our language and, for this reason, we list the most important texts written by Shizuto Masunaga, available in Japanese language at Iokai Center in Tokyo.

1963 – Shiatsu therapy
1965 – Clinical Shiatsu therapy
1968 – Introduction to clinical psychology for shiatsu practictioners
1969 – Shiatsu for the family
1969 – Shiatsu for beginners
1970 – Map of meridians – Iokai style (available also in Italian by Shiatsu Milano Editore)
1970 – Sesshin / Setsushin. Diagnosis guide (available also in Italian by Macunix)
1973/75 – Manuals of shiatsu 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th month (available also in Italian and English by Shiatsu Milano Editore)
1974 – Shiatsu (translated under the title “Zen shiatsu” also in English and Italian by Edizioni Mediterranee)
1975 – Lines and points for health
1979 – Energy exercises (translated under the title “Exercises for images” in English and Italian by Edizioni Mediterranee)
1980 – Tales of 100 treatments, expanded in in the second edition in 1994 (available also in Italian and soon in English by Shiatsu Milano Editore)
1983 – Keiraku to Shiatsu – (available also in Italian by Shiatsu Milano Editore)

Roberto Palasciano, editorial curator

Masunaga's writings

esercizi dei meridiani


To deepen our knowledge of the health exercises created by Shizuto Masunaga and known in Japan as “Keiraku Taiso” (meridian exercises), we received from Haruhiko Masunaga an article that definitively clarifies the essential difference between “Keiraku Taiso” and “Makkoho” , the latter created by Wataru Nagai in 1933. We thank the author of the text Mami Kawa, who authorized us for publication. Mami Kawa sensei has been working for years in Germany and Austria as a teacher of holistic movement, yoga, Keiraku shiatsu, Meridian exercises and Makkoho; you will be able to know the differences between the two types of exercises. Enjoy the reading!

The 5 days intensive course which takes place at Iokai Center in Ueno, Tokyo, starts every morning with the Meridian exercises. It is also a daily routine for the teacher, Mr. Haruhiko Masunaga to do the exercises before starting the shiatsu treatments. However, we cannot learn the exercises called “Makkoho” in the course taught at Iokai which was founded by Mr. Shizuto Masunaga. Then what is the Makkoho which is taught almost without exception at the shiatsu schools outside of Japan?
Harboring this doubt in my mind, I took private lessons at the headquarters of the Makkoho Association, a nonprofit foundation in Shibuya, Ttokyo, in December 2017. On that occasion, I was instructed directly by the chief coach, Mr. Masahiro Ono, which enabled me to ask questions in detail. Mr. Wataru Nagai created Makkoho in 1933 as a way of maintaining health.
He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage when he was 42 years old and was paralyzed on the left side. However, he gradually regained his health as he practiced everyday the exercises taking in the worshiping gesture as a hint. In addition, he developed with 4 types of basic physical exercises.
Even now, many members are actively working all over Japan and the United States under the management of membership fee, and they have establish five levels for those wishing to become their instructor. The coaching is authorized only to those who have obtained qualification has an instructor from the Associations and so normally, those without a license are not allowed to teach the Makkoho exercises.
In spite of thorough regulations, why did the Meridian exercises which are taught abroad, especially in Europe, are now called Makkoho and even the way of doing the exercises has become mixed up with that of the Meridian exercises? There seems to be various speculations concerning this matter.
For example, Mr. Tokujiro Namikoshi, the former Chairman of the Japanese Shiatsu Association, was an enthusiast for the Makkoho exercises; the practice method done in pairs called guidance exercises resembles closely with the Meridian shiatsu; the English person who learned the Meridian exercises in Japan spread it in European countries as Makkoho; or there is even a rumor without any credibility that it was created by someone called Mr. Makko.
It is said that Mr. Shizuto Masunaga conceived the Meridian exercises as his last mission and with it, the Masunaga Meridian System become complete.
Correct understanding of the Meridian exercises is indispensable for those who practice shiatsu treatment based on the meridian thought. Furthermore, if we are to continue paying respect and gratitude to these two originators of the great exercises and their successors, it is only fair to clearly distinguish these two exercises.
For this reason, I have Ssummarized and compared the common points and differences of the Meridian exercises and the Makkoho in the following chart.

Mami Kawa,

from the newsletter of the German Shiatsu Association “GSD Shiatsu Journal”, October 2018, revised in February 2019



This writing by Shizuto Masunaga illustrates the three basic rules of pressure at the Iokai Center in Tokyo. Enjoy the reading!

We instinctively lay our hand over the area where there is pain. This is called teate (手当て) in Japanese. Shiatsu is to give instinctive teate on behalf of the person who feels pain. Therefore, it is fundamental that one gives a pleasant pressure which is natural.
Rikyu taught something very obvious. “The innermost secret of tea ceremony is to suggest coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter.”
However, it is very difficult to grasp this naturality. As he even said “whoever is able to do this, I will become his disciple”. Therefore, it is necessary to first learn the etiquette. So what is shiatsu conforming to this naturality? I will explain it as three fundamental principles governing shiatsu.

1) Vertical pressure
A stable vertical pressure applied on the surface of the body is what we receive from our natural environment. And a living organism conducts its life reacting to this pressure. Abrupt, local and non-vertical pressure stimulates and tenses up the sympathetic nerves which could easily damage the living organism. This will excite the motor function and stimulate the blood circulation. However, this is inappropriate in the case of illness.

2) Stable sustained pressure
The vertical pressure is also used in anma and massage. Nonetheless, their pressure changes rhythmically. On the other hand, the pressure applied in shiatsu is stable and sustained.
The sustained pressure is usually applied for 2 to 7 seconds but it could be shorter as it could be held for 8 to 30 seconds or more. The key point in this sustained pressure is its stability. This allows the pressure to penetrate into the inner parts of the body activating the parasympathetic functions of the internal organs which in turn has a relaxing effect.

3) Sasae-atsu (supporting pressure)
It is difficult to give a vertical stable sustained pressure with the force of the fingers and arms. We can only achieve it by using the unconscious tonus of the muscle.
When we maintain a certain posture we do not consciously make a physical effort to do so, but we still are able to keep it for a long time. This is the work of the muscles supporting the weight. This is also true when we hold an object. This method is called sasae-atsu and it is also the pressure which is applied when we support ourselves while supporting the other person.
When we try to lean on the patient instead of pushing him, the person will entrust himself to us. This is what we call “interdependence”, which is expressed by the Japanese character for human being which is written 人 (the two lines represent two human beings supported by each other).
We can also say that the “two-hand technique” in which the hand giving a sedating pressure is continually supported by the tonifying hand pressure. This is what we call sasae-atsu.
When we agitate the body with a pressure given to a patient in an unstable posture, the body cannot relax and it will try to respond by tensing up the muscles and hardening the whole body. If the patient’s muscles are tense and not relaxed, no matter how much shiatsu we give, the pressure will not penetrate his body. When the pressure is given in one direction, unless the floor acts as the supporting force, the patient must be supported by a pressure from the opposite direction. The two-hand technique is also important for this sasae-atsu (supporting pressure).

In short, the patient must be relaxed when we give shiatsu. Therefore, the practitioner must be at ease, relaxed and gentle, and must have a supportive attitude towards the patient.

Shizuto Masunaga


Here is an article by Bill Tara, a pioneer of macrobiotics, of which we have translated the book “Natural body Natural mind”.

One of the most controversial and curious subjects in modern nutrition is the place of animal protein in a healthy diet. The evidence has been building over the past twenty years that our reliance of meat and dairy foods are a mistake. Most epidemiological studies indicate that excessive consumption of meat and dairy is a primary factor in most degenerative disease. These studies, coupled with the fact that the economic and environmental damage of the modern meat and dairy industry far outweighs its social and nutritional value, do not seem to shake the public belief that animal fats and protein are essential for a healthy diet. That more and more people reject these foods on ethical grounds related to the animal abuse sets the stage for a food fight of epic proportions.
There is certainly adequate information regarding the horrific and unhealthy conditions that factory-farmingmethods impose on cows, pigs, chicken and fish as well as the many other animals that are slaughtered for food daily. Most people would not eat the meat they consume daily if they had to witness the events that brought it to market. The fact that we need around 150 billion animals killed every year to survive seems strange when we look at the physical, anthropological and nutritional facts. We can only come to one conclusion – the argument has nothing to do with nutrition, science, compassion or common sense. No – the subject of animal food consumption is ruled largely by emotion and cultural mythologies.
Against the backdrop of the linkage between animal products and the increases in heart disease, stroke, cancers and even diabetes we have to ask ourselves what kind of visions or urges could bolster the desire to continue using meat as even a small part of a healthy diet, several spring to mind:
• The brave hunter returns to the cave with an antelope strapped on his back, which he offers his family as they cower in the shadows of their cave.
• The independent cowboy hunkers down beside the campfire for a big plate of fried meat and cornbread.
• The wealthy landowner sits down to the groaning table filled with roasted birds, fishes and legs of lamb.
• Dad fires up the grill and throws on the burgers and hotdogs, the flags are flying.
Powerful images that operate below the surface of consciousness often define who we think we are. Man the hunter, rugged individualism, dominion over the earth, wealth and shared experience all factor in our attitudes regarding what we eat and how we use all of the resources essential to our existence. What arguments could the proponents of a meat rich diet possibly use to justify this habit that is creating illness, brutality and ecological ruin? Well the answers to that question are simple, a heady mix of bad science and a fear of change.

Is meat part of our destiny?
One of the most interesting arguments supporting the eating of meat is that we are omnivorous; we can eat it all. I would never argue with that. Early humans ate a varied diet that probably included insects, small game, fruits and plants. I am not aware of any logical or anthropological contradiction to this idea.
The issue here is that we were not “natural carnivores” in the accepted definition of the word. A carnivore is an animal that has a diet mainly or exclusively of animal meat. This meat can be obtained through either hunting and killing or scavenging the left overs from what other animals kill.The academic arguments continue regarding the dietary details of our evolution but certain compelling facts emerge that challenge many cultural mythologies.
The most accurate indications of early diet are to be found in the mouth and intestinal tract. This is where the history of any animal’s dietary past is reflected most dramatically. Indications of the earliest human remains show that man was never a true carnivore. In fact, meat was probably a rather small part of dietary consumption with the exception of those living where agriculture, abundant edible plants were available. The proofs of this lie in both human structure and function.
Starting from the most mentioned and most obvious, our so-called canine teeth don’t qualify us as carnivores, they are placed back toward the outer corners of the mouth and they are not long enough, large enough or strong enough to grip, hold and tear flesh. There is no evidence in the fossil record that we have ever had the sharp developed teeth to tear meat or the jaw joints to hold or grind bones with any effectiveness let alone the claws that are essential tools for the capture and kill.
The issue of cheeks is one that often brings a laugh when I bring it up in lectures. Carnivores don’t have cheeks; they don’t need them. You don’t keep meat in your mouth; you only have cheeks when you keep food in your mouth to aid digestion and to masticate. Humans have digestive enzymes to digest complex carbohydrates (not needed for carnivores); we do not develop these capacities unless they are essential for our existence.
The same indications are there in the human intestinal tract. Carnivores have very short intestines with fairly smooth walls. Meat fiber is not beneficial to intestinal health in any animal, when the surface nutrients of the blood are released from meat the intestines need to be flushed. Meat fiber is toxic to the human microbiome. The human gut flourishes on plant fiber which supports digestive fermentation.
Herbivores and humans have a longer (two to three times as long) more complex digestive tract that holds vegetable fiber longer to achieve maximum efficiency. All of these features take us back over a hundred thousand years, far before the development of tools or practical use of fire. One of the problems that emerge in interpreting all these indications of our original diet is the fact that one of our most precious gifts is our adaptability.
The first humans left their African home 1.8 to 1.3 million years ago, depending on which of the current migratory theories you apply. As we travelled and as other waves of migration worked their way North we were forced to adapt to new environments. As tribes moved into the colder and less fertile lands it was important to follow herds of animals and to rely more on animal sources of food for survival. Those tribes who remained in the cooler climates retained their relationship to animals as a food source either in the wild or eventually domesticated and used for milk products.
Over thousands of years this adaptation included the sophistication of tool making, the control and use of fire for cooking and warmth and eventually agriculture. From 20,000 to 10,000 years ago agriculture slowly developed and with it cooking. Anthropologists tell us that during this period the primary development in human biology was an enlargement in brain size. This growth in the brain is attributed to the fact that cooking made digestion more efficient and allowed more caloric energy for development of the brain. If this is true it would indicate a movement away from our original diet to meet the challenges of migration and environment and then an adaptation to a more plant based diet to meet the social and physical needs of an increased population and a more settled cultural life. All of these changes were in service of staying alive.

Tradition and Evolution
When I ask clients to describe their diet the two most common answers are “I eat a really good diet” (everything is relative) and “I was raised on a traditional diet, I like my meat and potatoes”. The former is usually the female answer and the latter comes mostly from men. Tradition gets used as a reason for a multitude of sins. If it was good enough for grandpa it is good enough for me. Two questions spring to mind – the first question is if our nostalgia for tradition is a reflection of fact and the second is the value of tradition on its own.
When I started to eat a macrobiotic diet in the mid 1960’s my grandfather told me that I was eating more like he did as a child. His family lived on porridge, bread, vegetables, beans and small game with very little red meat. He thought it was funny and he loved the food. I have found this to be true in every country I have visited; if you ask the elders, their diet included less meat unless they were quite wealthy.
There has been a long association between wealth and meat eating, the wealthiest get the best cuts, and the poor get what’s left. This is still true today; meat eating and the abundance of food are often associated with success. It has always been the rich who were overweight with the shift in the modern diet the tables are turned. Food abundance and plentiful meat and dairy are now the staples of the fast food diet. Obesity is now available for everyone – how democratic. The only problem is that the meat being consumed is still the scrap.The popular fast food hamburger can contain as little as 15% meat and includes bones, connective tissue, blood vessels, fat, water, nerves, cartilage and plant based fillers.No one wants to know what’s in a hot dog. So-called traditions of meat eating serve those who sell meat but are not a reflection of reality. The question still hangs in the air; even if our ancestors ate meat as their primary food why should that affect our diet today?
Human evolution is dominated by two influences, physical adaptation and cultural adaptation. Physical adaptation is a reflection of our ability meet the challenges and changes in the environment as reflected in physical form and function. These changes represent the raw desire for survival. Cultural evolution represents a different and unique aspect of human life. We develop ideas drive and inform our attitudes and actions which are reflected in social institutions and the ways we alter our environment. The environment we are now adapting to is one of our own making.
Over the past 10,000 years human societies have reversed the swing of evolution. We have changed the environment we adapt to, we are in the process of altering the source of our life and we are doing it without any conscious vision of the result. Human culture has made forests disappear, changed the course of rivers, altered the atmosphere and changed the composition of the seas. The crucible out of which life emerged has been bent to the will of humanity, mostly for the worse.Our attitudes regarding food are an important part of this process.
The gift of consciousness, our capacity to be aware of our actions and the implications of them, is a great gift if we us it. Tradition can be described as social habit. As with any habit, tradition should be assessed as either improving or diminishing the quality of individual and social life. With consciousness we may feel that some traditions fill an important need are worth retaining, others may have outlived their use or based on ignorance and need to be replaced. To retain any tradition out of misplaced nostalgia is ill advised. I loved my grandparents very much but am quite happy to leave some of their prejudices and beliefs in the past since they do not serve in the present.
The development of technologies and the speed of social change make many people anxious about the course of society. This anxiety often produces irrational fears as we move into uncharted territory. The course of history makes demands on us all to reassess what is of true value, not only in the moment but also for the future. When we approach the issue of nutrition the demand is that we move beyond the restraints of imagined tradition and ask ourselves how we create a healthy and environmentally sound diet that is flexible enough to adapt to personal needs, diverse enough to satisfy the senses and capable of feeding a hungry world with the least environmental impact. This is not only possible but urgently needed.
One of the habits we will have to leave behind is our dependence on animals as a primary food source. It is wasteful, unhealthy and produces environmental chaos. The way forward is to continue to advocate eating low on the food chain, to promote education of the young on the benefits of healthy eating, to support organic agriculture and demand politicians to have the courage to confront the massive agriculture and food monopolies and make them accountable for the quality of their food. There is no benefit in respecting tradition if it poisons the future.

Bill Tara


Here you can find an interesting article by the German doctor Wilfried Rappenecker, founder and head of the Shiatsu School of Hamburg and director of the International Shiatsu School of Kiental (Switzerland). He is one of the main representatives of shiatsu in Germany and at European level, as well as author of various books on shiatsu. Enjoy the reading!

In bodywork, we describe resonance as a phenomenon that unfolds between therapist and patient. Mindfulness for oneself and being present in one’s body on the part of the therapist is an important basis for resonance in a therapeutic setting.
Training and experience allow the therapist to amplify the resonance. However, the practitioner alone cannot generate resonance; the patient’s response is essential. In this context, trust is an essential ingredient. The arising therapeutic space is more, and can facilitate more, than the space between two individuals who are not resonating with each other.
Resonance shapes, in one way or another, interpersonal communication. Resonance is the foundation for creating a sense of communion.
In Shiatsu, resonance describes a phenomenon which unfolds in every therapeutic situation between therapist and patient, and which is reflected in the therapist’s perception of and the patient’s reaction to the touch. Resonance always occurs when two people relate to each other. In this article I describe the effects of and prerequisites for amplified and deepened resonance as it occurs and can be promoted consciously in a Shiatsu treatment.
When resonance is amplified patients describe the effect of the touch as reaching significantly deeper, both physically and emotionally, than without deepened resonance. Clients relax more easily and deeply. The breathing becomes deeper, or lighter and shallower; there will be a perceptible decrease of both tissue and muscle tone; local tension dissolves.
In a state of amplified resonance, the therapist’s perception expands from perceiving only the physical surface and superficially visible physical structures to perceiving the body-space, e.g. with a frozen shoulder, an injured knee or psychological complaints.

Being present in the body and the quality of attention
A state of increased resonance in this sense requires the practitioner ‘being present within himself’. This phrase describes a state in which the therapist perceives himself and his body in a relaxed way while being engaged in therapeutic interaction with the patient. This state is experienced as calm and centred – and felt as pleasant. The client, too, enters into a similar state, among other things through the deep relaxation experienced in the treatment.
Mindfulness towards oneself and being present in one’s body is an indispensable basis for the therapist’s mindfulness towards the patient and her body-space. This kind of mindfulness is not diffuse, but orientated and focussed. The fascinating combination of relaxed expansion and clear focus facilitates specific touch with nothing but focussed attention – together with manual touch; if considered appropriate, then also instead of it. This type of touch with attention is possible on any part of the body, on its surface as well as within the depth of the body-space.
It is interesting that even minor changes in the therapist’s position, thinking or mental orientation can have a considerable influence on the resonance space formed together with the client. For example, if the practitioner straightens up and slightly expands himself during the touch, joints such as the shoulder joint and the wrist become permeable and the client will experience more freedom and lightness; and he will often become even more deeply relaxed. The client will experience the touch in different ways in his body, depending on whether the practitioner is working on an area with a well-defined focus of attention, or whether he is thinking of something completely different, such as his shopping list.
Expansive and focussed mindfulness can and must be learned and practiced. It is a kind of Qi Gong practice. Body exercises, such as Hatha Yoga and meditation, can play a decisive role in such training. The treatments themselves can be utilised as an effective practice for reaching a state of amplified resonance.
In the beginning it often requires courage to enter into a state where resonance is possible. It requires courage because it requires the practitioner to open up; to partially surrender the control of which aspect of myself emerges to the outside as well as the control of what can penetrate to the inside. To be in a state of resonance means that I show myself the way I am.

Therapeutic Space
However important it is that the therapist be able to enter into resonance – the practitioner alone can trigger the phenomenon we call resonance to only a limited extent. The client’s response is essential. At that moment in the treatment, when the client relaxes, she opens herself up to the touch and establishes a connection with – and perceptible by –the therapist. This connection is a phenomenon of resonance, which people who are in tune with their bodies (e.g. bodyworkers, yoga practitioners, professional dancers or actors) will perceive much quicker and more strongly. This makes working with such people easier and more satisfying for the practitioner.
In the connection described here the feeling arises as if therapist and patient share a common space. At our institute we call this resonance space the Therapeutic Space. Training and experience on the part of the practitioner make it easier for this space to arise.
Trust is an essential ingredient of the resonance space described above. The practitioner’s mindful touch and his relaxed presence allow the patient to relax and trust the setting and the touch. Trust increases the potential for resonance in the human system and thus its strength. Trust, therefore, facilitates an inner state in which words and touch have a deeper effect and support self-regulation and self-healing. In my view, this is an important component of any therapeutic effect (also in the context of a conventional medical intervention, as any G.P. in medicine knows) and one of the foundations of the placebo effect.
Not every client is able to open up to the emerging resonance space straight away. For example, offering this space to traumatised persons can trigger fear and a closing-up. In such cases, the therapist’s experience is of great importance in order to continue offering openness and acceptance unilaterally, while at the same time understanding and respecting the client’s closing up as a necessary act at that moment.
In the Therapeutic Space therapist and patient communicate with each other. Verbal and especially non-verbal information becomes accessible; information which goes beyond merely physical impressions and encompasses emotional aspects as well as aspects of the client’s life history. Generally, based on his training and professional experience, the therapist can consciously use this information for working with the client. Due to the nature of resonance, clients equally receive information about the therapist but are usually unaware of this. Both transference and counter-transference are phenomena of the Therapeutic (Resonance) Space.
In a safe treatment setting the Therapeutic Resonance Space develops spontaneously and without any conscious action of the persons involved. However, it can also be induced by the practitioner based on her training and experience. Of importance are skilful perception, mindful approach and respect for the patient’s integrity. Only then a therapeutic setting will develop that differs fundamentally from a non-resonating one.

Resonance in everyday life
What I refer to as the Therapeutic Space, in my view and experience, exists in every interpersonal communication. Language is only one of the essential tools for communication and together with gestures, facial expression and body language as well as the many ways of communicating, influences and shapes the communal space formed by human beings when they consciously or unconsciously relate to each other.
I presume that mutually experiencing and relating to each other in the Resonance Space also plays a great, if not central, role in people’s everyday life; that it forms the basis for all important decisions; and that it brings the colour to our lives which we experience in our togetherness with others. Resonance is a foundation for a sense of communion.

Attempting an explanation
In attempting to find an explanation for the phenomena observed in bodywork as described above, the term ‘resonance’, borrowed from quantum/particle physics, appears very useful to me. Resonance arises when two vibratory bodies or spaces relate to and influence each other. In this concept, the human being as a whole (i.e. the human body, possibly including its surrounding space, as well as feelings and thoughts) is seen as a space capable of Resonance.
In bodywork, a relaxed upright body, which ‘shows itself’ and can openly enter into resonance, is therefore of great importance. Marked tension in the practitioner’s body (e.g. in the shoulders, the neck or the wrists) will cause a constraint of the resonance space.
The less the vibrational capacity is impaired, the easier it will be for vibrational spaces to resonate with each other. Typical dampening factors in the human body are tension as a result of stress, anxiety, ambition etc. If the body suppresses certain painful experiences and if this suppression is permanently stored, there will be blockages on both an emotional and physical level. These can severely restrict the system’s vibrational capacity. This applies to almost all people, but in particular to those with e.g. a neurotic or post-traumatic stress disorder or with borderline personalities.
Bodywork such as Shiatsu, but also psychotherapy, pursues the goal of dissolving such blockages and increasing the vibrational capacity of a person’s entire system. If the vibrational capacity of a client’s system increases during treatment, it is easier to find solutions to the current problem.

Wilfried Rappenecker

shiatsu milano editore


Shiatsu Milano Editore is a small independent publisher based in Milan (Italy) dealing with bio-natural disciplines, in particular shiatsu: for their disclosure, we publish books and organize workshops.
Thanks to our Publishing Director Mr. Roberto Palasciano, also a shiatsu teacher and Didactic Director of Scuola Internazionale di Shiatsu Italia (Italian Shiatsu International School) in Milan, we are in connection from 2011 with Iokai Center in Tokyo and we have a good cooperation with Haruhiko Masunaga sensei (Shizuto Masunaga’s son and present Director of Iokai Center).

We translated from Japanese into Italian and published Shizuto Masunaga’s most important writings and, given the accuracy of our translation, also on request and incitement of Haruhiko Masunaga, we decided to translate some of these texts from Italian to English, to allow their diffusion all over the world.

At the moment “Masunaga Shiatsu Manuals” (4 volumes) and “Tales of 100 treatments” are available in paper back (and also in ebook, on the major platforms).

We are sure that you will appreciate our work in order to spread the original shiatsu of Masunaga sensei and to create a community of practitioners who continue on the way that he showed us, to allow many to know our magnificent art.

We are at your disposal for any information. Please do not hesitate to contact us by email:

Mr. Roberto Palasciano (Publishing Director) roberto.palasciano@shiatsumilanoeditore.it