Japanese Acupuncture
What is Japanese Acupuncture?

Indigenous styles of acupuncture emerged in Japan after the introduction of classical Chinese medical texts
in the 6th century. Currently many different styles of acupuncture are practiced in Japan. Among these, three
major styles stand out: Traditional Japanese Acupuncture & Moxibustion (which includes Meridian Therapy),
Modern Japanese Acupuncture & Moxibustion (which uses biomedical diagnoses to determine point
selection and treatment), and TCM-based Japanese Acupuncture & Moxibustion (the most current Chinese
acupuncture methods modified in Japan).

Through its own evolutionary process, Japanese acupuncture has taken on characteristics that are unique.
These include a strong emphasis on palpation, sensory awareness of qi arrival, root (meridian based) and
branch (symptomatic) approaches to treatment, direct moxa, hinai-shin/enpi-shin (intra-dermal acupuncture)
and shoni-shin (pediatric acupuncture). The Japanese Acupuncture Certification Program at the
Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley will focus on these unique features.


Palpation

I
n Japanese style acupuncture, the channels themselves are carefully examined to see if any abnormality can
be found, in addition to the abdomen and the radial pulse (wrist). The abdomen and pulse are the two areas
of the body that give the most detailed information to the overall state of a person's health as well as indicate
any specific imbalances within the meridian system. In addition, the injured or painful area of the body is
examined thoroughly.

In the abdominal area, information is gathered by feeling for temperature variations, skin texture differences,
areas of softness and hardness at different depths, and any other subtle sensations. The pulse is palpated at
three positions and three depths on each wrist. The speed, strength, and depth, as well as relative strength
and weakness of each position are noted.

All of the information that has been gathered from the questioning, observation, and hands on diagnosis is
then put together to paint a picture of an individual's overall health as well as the state of their meridians.


In the Japanese traditional acupuncture points are viewed as a living phenomenon. The anatomical location
is considered to be only the starting point. To find the actual point, the practitioner must be able to palpate
exactly where it is. Thus, countless hours are spent in the Japanese acupuncture community developing the
ability to sense with one’s hands where the “live points” are. Subtle changes in temperature, moisture, and
skin resilience, are sought to find the best point.


Palpation plays a critical role in the application of acupuncture needles to the body, as described in the
following sequence:

1.Zenjunen (pre-kneading) involves preparing the acupuncture point for treatment through gentle massaging
and stroking of the acupuncture point.
2.Oshide (supporting hand) forms an O-ring base that secures the guide tube and receives sensory
information from the body (temperature, moisture, tension, activity). This is an integral part of the diagnostic
and treatment process.
3.Sashide (inserting hand) does the needling and performs the technique.
4.Basshin (removal of the needle)
5.Koujunen (post-kneading) closes the hole, relaxes and reassures the patient.
6.Katate soukan (one handed needle reloading) enables the oshide to be used for palpation
The “arrival of Qi” is another unique aspect of Japanese style acupuncture. By paying attention to subtle
sensations in one’s hands and body, the acupuncturist is aware of when the point has been activated. Often
the patient feels a shift in their entire body rather than a localized sensation.


Root & Branch Treatment

Another characteristic of Japanese acupuncture is found in the root & branch aspects of treatment. This
approach is most used in Meridian Therapy. Root treatments are first applied to balance the whole person,
followed by a branch treatment to address a specific complaint. The belief is that by always applying
treatment to the entire person (root), any symptom (branch) will be more likely to be alleviated and not return.
If the branch is treated but not the root, the symptom may be alleviated but a more a fundamental type of
healing will not be achieved.



Direct Moxibustion

Traditionally a small amount (around the size of a ½ grain of rice) of moxa is burned directly on an
acupuncture point. This is known as Okyu, or Tonetsu Kyu (penetrating moxibustion). Although this method is
very effective in the treatment of many conditions, the most practitioners in the West do not practice this style
of moxa due to misconceptions and lack of training. When done by a properly trained practitioner, this
method is not painful and many patients actually enjoy it.



Hinai-shin/Enpi-shin

Hinai-shin (intra-dermal needle) and Enpi-shin (press tack needle) are used to stimulate acupuncture points
by retaining very thin and short needles in the skin, secured by adhesive tape. These needles are left in
patient’s body for a number of days to enhance and lengthen the treatment effect.



Shoni-shin

Shoni-shin, or pediatric acupuncture, involves the use of various gadgets to poke/prod/scrape the
acupuncture channel system and stimulate healing in infants and young children. It's a delightful modality that
you’ll find very appealing to children.
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