Everything You Should Know About the Art of Shiatsu

Shiatsu, a form of therapeutic bodywork from Japan, has gained international acclaim for its unique approach to promoting health and well-being. Rooted in traditional Eastern medicine, Shiatsu stands out for its distinctive techniques and rich historical background.

Let’s dive deeper into the history of Shiatsu, what makes it unique from other massage techniques, and where to find the best Shiatsu massages in Singapore.

What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu, which translates to “finger pressure” in Japanese, is a type of massage therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points on the body. This therapy is grounded in the same principles as acupuncture, focusing on the body’s meridians or energy pathways.

However, unlike acupuncture, Shiatsu does not involve needles but uses hands, thumbs, elbows, and even knees to apply pressure. The goal of Shiatsu is to enhance energy flow, promote relaxation, and support the body’s natural healing processes.

What are the Techniques that Make Shiatsu Unique?

Shiatsu incorporates various techniques that distinguish it from other massage therapies. Some of these unique techniques include:

  1. Kneading: The therapist uses their fingers and palms to apply rhythmic pressure, promoting muscle relaxation and energy flow.
  2. Tapping and Cupping: Gentle tapping or percussive cupping stimulates the meridians, invigorating the body’s energy.
  3. Stretching: Shiatsu often involves stretches and rotations, aligning the musculoskeletal system and enhancing flexibility.
  4. Pressure Points: Focused pressure is applied to specific points, known as tsubos, which correspond to different body organs and systems.

These techniques are typically performed through clothing, making Shiatsu an accessible form of therapy for many.

Where Did Shiatsu Originate?

Shiatsu originated in Japan, drawing from traditional Chinese medicine practices and philosophies, especially the concept of Qi (or Ki in Japanese), the vital life force. Over time, Shiatsu evolved, integrating aspects of Western anatomy and physiology into its practice.

A Brief History of Shiatsu Massage

The development of Shiatsu can be traced back to early 20th century Japan. Tokujiro Namikoshi is often credited with founding modern Shiatsu. As a young boy, Namikoshi developed techniques to treat his mother’s rheumatoid arthritis, laying the foundation for his later work. In 1940, he established the Japan Shiatsu College, which played a crucial role in formalizing Shiatsu as a distinct therapeutic practice.

After World War II, Shiatsu gained popularity both in Japan and overseas. It was recognized as a distinct therapy by the Japanese government in the 1950s, differentiating it from other forms of massage and physical therapies. In the following decades, Shiatsu’s popularity continued to grow, and it became known worldwide, particularly in Western countries, where it was appreciated for its holistic approach to health and wellness.

Shiatsu’s journey from a traditional, home-remedy practice to an internationally recognized form of therapy illustrates its adaptability and the universal appeal of its principles. Today, Shiatsu is not just a form of physical therapy; it’s a bridge between Eastern and Western approaches to health and wellness, offering a unique perspective on the body’s capacity for healing and balance.

How to Find a Good Shiatsu Massage Provider in Singapore

Not all spas offer excellent Shiatsu massage services. To find a good Shiatsu massage provider, you can follow these steps:

  1. Research Online: Start by searching online for Shiatsu massage providers in Singapore. Look for providers with good reviews and ratings on platforms like Google, TripAdvisor, or local health and wellness forums. Pay attention to comments about the therapists’ professionalism, the cleanliness of the facility, and the overall experience.
  2. Check Credentials: Ensure that the therapists are properly trained and certified in Shiatsu massage. In Singapore, massage therapists should have relevant qualifications recognized by local health authorities or reputable massage therapy associations.
  3. Ask for Recommendations: Word of mouth can be very powerful. Ask friends, family, or colleagues who have had Shiatsu massages in Singapore for their recommendations. Personal experiences can give you valuable insights into the quality of the massage and the service provided.
  4. Contact the Providers: Once you have a list of potential providers, contact them to inquire about their services. Ask about the therapist’s experience, the types of Shiatsu massage offered, the duration and cost of sessions, and any special packages or promotions.
  5. Visit the Facility: If possible, visit the massage facility to get a feel for the environment. A good Shiatsu massage provider will have a clean, calming, and professional setting. This is also a good opportunity to meet the therapist and ask any further questions you might have.
  6. Experience a Trial Session: If you’re still unsure, consider booking a trial session. This will give you a firsthand experience of the therapist’s technique and the overall service quality.
  7. Consider Location and Accessibility: Choose a provider that is conveniently located and easily accessible for you. Consider factors like parking availability, public transport options, and the overall travel time from your home or workplace.
  8. Compare Prices: While price shouldn’t be the only factor, it’s important to compare the prices of different providers to ensure you are getting value for your money. Remember, the most expensive option is not always the best.
  9. Check for Aftercare Support: A good Shiatsu massage provider should offer aftercare advice or support. This could include tips on stretches, hydration, or follow-up sessions.
  10. Trust Your Instincts: Lastly, trust your instincts. If you feel comfortable and reassured after interacting with the provider, it’s likely a good sign.

Remember, the effectiveness of Shiatsu massage can vary based on the skill and approach of the therapist, so taking the time to find a provider that suits your needs is crucial for a beneficial experience.

Bottom Line

Shiatsu massage, with its roots in Japanese tradition and adaptation of both Eastern and Western medical philosophies, offers a unique and holistic approach to health and well-being. Its specialized techniques, which focus on balancing the body’s energy flow, make it a distinct and effective form of therapy.

For those in Singapore seeking the benefits of Shiatsu, careful research, consideration of therapists’ credentials, personal recommendations, and attentive selection are key to finding a quality provider. Embracing Shiatsu is not just choosing a massage technique; it’s an investment in a time-honoured practice that harmonizes the body, mind, and spirit.


Denisse loves reading and writing about culture, history, and politics. Outside writing articles for The Singaporean, Denisse enjoys musicals, gaming, and Harry Potter.

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