Shiatsu is a physical therapy that supports and strengthens the body’s natural ability to heal and balance itself. Although shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese, a practitioner also uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and balance its energy flow. Like acupuncture, shiatsu stimulates the body’s vital energy (Chi) using the points and meridians of acupuncture as well as massaging the muscles, joints and circulation with strokes like kneading or effleurage. It is characterised by extensive use of pressure techniques over acupressure points often done using thumb or palms.

Massage, along with acupuncture and herbalism, was for centuries an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine and was introduced to Japan around the 6th Century AD when monks brought a combination of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism from China to Japan. The Japanese developed and refined many of these methods to suit their own physiology, temperament and climate. In particular, they developed the manual healing and diagnostic arts, evolving the special techniques of abdominal diagnosis, treatment and massage, which are used in shiatsu today.  In 1919 Tamai Tempaku developed shiatsu by combining these ancient forms with therapeutic exercises and Western anatomy and physiology. After the US Occupation of Japan in 1945 traditional therapies had to be suppressed or changed which accounts for the varying forms of shiatsu, acupuncture and moxibustion prevalent today. In 1964 shiatsu was officially recognised by the Japanese Government.

Main principles

Shiatsu is a form of bodywork administered by thumbs, fingers, palms and elbows, feet and knees. It depends for its success on a meditative activity of the practitioner, aimed especially at detecting the body responses to the treatment, which influences the subsequent treatment step by step. Pressure is applied to all parts of the body along meridians.  The technique stimulates the natural healing powers of the body.


Shiatsu is a deeply relaxing experience and regular treatments can alleviate stress and illness and maintain health and well-being. It is useful for structural problems such as bad necks, backs or poor posture, as well as conditions like menstrual difficulties, skin disorders, digestive problems and migraines as well as psychological issues such as depression.


Shiatsu Society (UK)

Shiatsu is a deeply relaxing experience and regular treatments can alleviate stress and illness.