Tokujiro Namikoshi, universally recognized as the father of shiatsu, was born on November 3, 1905 (thirty-eighth year of the Meiji era) in the city of Tadotsu, on the Japanese island of Shikoku. In that year Japan defeated the great Russia and the victory provoked great euphoria throughout the country. Tokujiro grew in economic prosperity until the seventh year of age when, due to a heavy rainfall, the company producing umbrellas of his father Eikichi failed. It seems almost a paradox but at that time the umbrellas were made of paper and this was not able to dry off after processing. The non-delivery of a large commission, therefore, did not allow the payment of the debt for the purchase of raw materials. Immediately after the Namikoshi family decided to move to Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, where the government gave subsidies to reclaim the area. Following the sudden change of climate, the pains located throughout the body forced Tokujiro’s mother, Masa to bed. The woman was affected by what we today call articular rheumatism. Since there was not in Rusutsu, the village where they had moved, doctors or medicine, Eikichi asked his sons to gently massage their mother in turn. The practice of massage was very popular at the time and had origins from ancient traditional Chinese medicine. Thanks to the help of the children, Masa began to feel better and in particular she found greater benefit from the massages of Tokujiro who used the pressure of the thumbs to dissolve the stiffness. Given the success, the father decided to entrust the assignment to him. Tokujiro continued to experiment with different techniques, varying the pressure according to the degree of rigidity, the temperature of the skin and other factors, until the mother’s symptoms did not completely disappear. This marked the fate of little Tokujiro and led him to study intensively over the years and repeat the phrase “The heart of Shiatsu is the heart of the mother”. He then experimented with different methods up to the modern therapy of the Namikoshi Shiatsu, recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Health from 1957 to today.

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