Shiatsu has its roots in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which goes back about 4000 years.
Shiatsu literally means finger (shi) pressure (Atsu). Shiatsu like other Eastern methods effects the  body, mind and spirit. Shiatsu works with the body’s flow of life energy called Chi or Ki. From observation Ki has been found to flow along channels or energy pathways called meridians that are linked to the functions of the major organs. Shiatsu is Japanese for ‘finger pressure’, but the practitioner may also use thumbs, palms, elbows, and feet during a shiatsu session. In a Shiatsu session the practitioner senses imbalances in the Meridian system. By applying pressure techniques the Shiatsu practitioner is able to stimulate the movement of Ki to stagnant areas to re-balance energy along these channels and to promote self-healing.  This results in a heightened sense of well-being in body, mind and spirit .This state of balance is known as the harmony of the yin and yang. Giving a Shiatsu session is an enjoyable experience.  Shiatsu like other Eastern methods provides healing benefits to both the giver and receiver.  
Dr. Telse Merry and Leiah Carr have provided Shiatsu sessions for many years.  Dr. Telse Merry is commonly called the “Mother of Shiatsu” in North America.  She studied both Acupuncture and Shiatsu in Japan.  Telse studied Acupuncture under Dr. Dao.  She studied Shiatsu directly with Tokujiro Nomikoshi.  He established the institute that is now the Japan Shiatsu College. Telse relocated to Toronto, Canada and studied and obtained her Massage Therapy license.  She opened the Toronto Shiatsu Center, being the first to birng this nearly lost art to North America. japan-590374_1280Both Tokujiro Nomikoshi’s son, who wrote the first book on Shiatsu and Shizuto Masunagi visited her center many times.  Shizuto Masunagi is the founder of Zen Shiatsu.   Namikoshi Shiatsu Therapy is a primary form of shiatsu in Japan that practitioners learn in order to become licensed. Mr. Tokujiro Namikoshi is the founder of Namikoshi Shiatsu Therapy and Japan’s Shiatsu College. He was born in 1905 on the island of Shikoku, and moved to the northern island of Hokkaido with his family when he was seven years old. The cold northern climate caused his mother to be in bed with debilitating pain. Tokujiro was determined to help her from a very young age and discovered that pressing and rubbing her body helped to alleviate the pain. Because of this early experience he went on to study science and healing methods while developing his own distinctive methods and system of points, now known as Namikoshi Shiatsu therapy.
Mr. Tokujiro Namikoshi passed the exam for massage and anma in 1925, and opened the first shiatsu clinic soon after. He began teaching Shiatsu in the 1940’s and established the institute that is now Japan’s Shiatsu College. Namikoshi developed a system of pressure points and applications founded in the principles of western anatomy, physiology and pathology. His vision was for shiatsu to be founded in the “new” science from the west as he saw that this would be the future of medicine in Japan. Namikoshi helped to create the Japan Shiatsu Association in 1946 and was its first president. Through his efforts, the Japanese Government officially recognized Shiatsu. In 1957, the law was changed to give Shiatsu equal status with Anma and Massage. Japan’s Shiatsu College continues to be the leading school for Shiatsu Therapists in Japan. In 1990, woman-40988_640the curriculum was extended to be a three-year training program. The Basics Shiatsu applies manual and digital pressure techniques to the skin with the aim of preventing and healing illness, injury and discomfort. This is accomplished by stimulating the body’s own powers of recuperation, eliminating fatigue-producing elements, and promoting general well-being and health. The basic principles upon which Namikoshi Shiatsu is founded are: • Shiatsu combines assessment and treatment. • The therapist uses only his/her hands and fingers, and no mechanical devices. 

Zen Shiatsu is characterized by the theory of Kyo-Jitsu, its physical and psychological manifestations, and its application to abdominal (Hara) diagnosis. Zen Shiatsu theory is based on an extended meridian system that includes, as well as expands, the location of the traditional acupuncture meridians. The focus of a Zen Shiatsu session is on the use of meridian lines rather than on specific points. In addition, Zen Shiatsu does not adhere to a fixed sequence or set of methods that are applied to all similar client needs. It utilizes appropriate methods for the unique pattern of each individual. Zen Shiatsu was developed by Shizuto Masunaga.  


Telse and Leiah have worked with both Traditional and Zen Shiatsu systems. In working directly with Telse over the years Leiah has gained the Shiatsu Presentation 4 16training and experience that came directly from the founders in Japan and the “Mother of Shiatsu” in North America. Shiatsu can be blended with Sound Massage to bring about profound effects to both treatment methods.  The synergistic blending of methods to bring balance through the clearing of the energy pathways or highways of the body can easily restore balance and harmony to the body, mind and spirit.  You can learn more about our Shiatsu and Sound Healing courses on the Seminar Description page.  We encourage you to learn Zen Shiatsu as an adjunct to your sound healing skills.  You will gain valuable knowledge and skill in the courses and enjoy the many amazing stories Telse has to share related to her life and studies under the masters in Japan.  Visit our Seminar page to learn the specifics to gain this life changing skill and enhance your own health and that of those you treat.


While research scientist have yet to determine the specifics of why or how shiatsu may improve an individuals health, there are theories that that treatment with this modality may calm the sympathetic nervous system resulting in a reduction in stress and the stress related hormones, stimulate circulation and reduce pain. Research on Shiatsu and other massage modalities is limited but some studies indicate evidence of certain benefits. Shiatsu has been used to reduce stress and against stress related issues.  It has been used to bring relief to individuals dealing with:

  • Anxiety
  • Back Pain
  • Colds
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Menstrual Issues
  • Shoulder and Neck Pain
  • Sciatic
  • Improving Digestion
  • Increasing Energy
  • Recovery from Injuries and more RESEARCH Research studies suggest benefits related to reduction of anxiety, stress and, pain

Learn more the many benefits of Traditional and Zen Shiatsu first hand in one of our Zen Shiatsu seminars.  This is a method that has stood the test of time, and has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  This modality blends extremely well with Sound Massage for a profound synergistic effect that will set you apart from your peers and bring many benefits to your family, friends and clients.


Published Study: Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine – 2008 suggests that shiatsu may help alleviate fatigue and reduce stress. In a survey the study’s also found that shiatsu may help ease symptoms associated with muscle and joint problems.

Some research also indicates that shiatsu shows promise in the treatment of certain pain-causing conditions.

Pilot study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in 2013, Patients with Fibromyalgia received eight weeks of twice-weekly shiatsu sessions who experienced reduced pain intensity and improved sleep quality.

Published study the Journal of Holistic Nursing in 2001 showed that shiatsu may help relieve anxiety and  pain in people with low back pain.

Long AF. “The effectiveness of shiatsu: findings from a cross-European, prospective observational study.” J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct;14(8):921-30.

Robinson N, Lorenc A, Liao X. “The evidence for Shiatsu: a systematic review of Shiatsu and acupressure.” BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Oct 7;11:88.

Yuan SL, Berssaneti AA, Marques AP. “Effects of shiatsu in the management of fibromyalgia symptoms: a controlled pilot study.” J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2013 Sep;36(7):436-43.

Brady LH, Henry K, Luth JF 2nd, Casper-Bruett KK. “The effects of shiatsu on lower back pain.” J Holist Nurs. 2001 Mar;19(1):57-70.