Keiraku Shiatsu

Keiraku Shiatsu


Shizuto Masunaga developed Keiraku Shiatsu, based on Chinese Medicine classics and Meridian theories. Keiraku Shiatsu is the origin of what is now called Zen Shiatsu in the West. However, Keiraku Shiatsu and Zen Shiatsu are very different. Shiatsu practitioners and teachers in the West have modified (or even misinterpreted) the Masunaga's original teachings to adapt and develop into their styles, which is not necessarily bad. But they have become a completely different form. 

Masunaga, a former psychology professor who studied Shiatsu directly from Namikoshi at the Japan Shiatsu College, combined his understanding of western psychology with oriental medicine. Based on the Chinese Medicine classics, bioscience and psychology, combined with his clinical experiences, Masunaga developed his theory and practices of Keiraku Shiatsu. Keiraku Shiatsu is also called Iokai Shiatsu, as Iokai is the name of the institute Masunaga founded.

To read more about a brief introduction Shiatsu, click here.

Keiraku/Meridian Therapy


Keiraku means “meridian,” an energy channel, which runs all over the body just below the skin (between the skin and muscles). What flows through these meridians is called Ki in Japanese and Qi in Chinese. It is the life force or vital energy that governs all physiological, mental and emotional functions. 

Each meridian has a close relation to a corresponding internal Organ, which gives the meridian its name, such as Heart, Spleen, and Kidneys. Each of the meridians is not only related to the physiological function of its Organ, but it also has a psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspect that controls and influences all the activities of living human beings. (Note that the Organ functions in Chinese Medicine are different from the organs in western medicine terms.)

Keiraku Shiatsu is the hands-on therapy that helps heal and prevent ailment, correct imbalances, and promote health by stimulating the meridians' proper energy flow.


Diagnosis and treatment of Kyo/Deficiency and Jitsu/Excess 

In Masunaga's theory, all symptoms are diagnosed as either Jitsu (excess) or Kyo (lack/emptiness) in the meridians. The practitioner uses various hands-on techniques to transfer the excessive Ki/energy (Jitsu), to the area (meridian) that is weak or lacking in Ki (Kyo). 


Jitsu/Excess and Kyo/Deficiency can be described as below:

  • Jitsu 実 - fullness, tension, bunched-up, heat, knot, bulging musculature, buzzy, resistance when pressed

  • Kyo 虚 - lack, emptiness, hollow-feeling, weak musculature, quiet, no resistance when pressed


To identify Kyo/Deficiency and Jitsu/Excess, the practitioner feels the receiver's Ki by palpating the surface of the receiver’s body, where the meridians run, also their back and abdomen(Back and Hara diagnosis). 


Both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Keiraku Shiatsu have systematic pattern differentiations for treating Excess and Deficiencies. For effective treatment, this pattern differentiation is the key to selecting points or meridians, and the techniques used for treatment (tonification or sedation).


The Shiatsu practitioner uses a manual technique to disperse Jitsu/Excess and tonify Kyo/Deficiency by transferring the excessive Qi to the deficient area. In this way, the tension and tightness in the Jitsu area can relax and the weak and flaccid area can regain normal function and resilience. Usually, diagnosis and treatment take place simultaneously. Deeper pressure and more extended holding are required to reach the empty deficient area. Stimulating and quicker pressure and movement is applied to disperse excess Qi in Jitsu area. By holding Kyo/Deficient area with one hand (Yin/mother-hand) and Jitsu/Excess with the other (working/active hand) simultaneously, Kyo and Jitsu can establish a connection and resonate each other; thus, excess Qi of Jitsu transfers to Kyo area (two-hands technique). The practitioner incorporates various stretches to open specific meridians, or to disperse the excess in the meridians.

By applying the right level of pressure along the meridians, the distortion is corrected. Thus, the receiver goes back to a healthy, balanced state.

Vertical, sustained and supportive pressure

Although the practitioner of Keiraku Shiatsu uses various hands-on techniques, the acupressure direction is always vertical. According to Masunaga, vertical pressure in Keiraku Shiatsu is similar to the force of gravity, atmospheric, and water pressure present in the natural environment; therefore, is the most healing to a living body. Deep vertical acupressure can efficiently transmit through the muscle, fat, and connective tissue and stimulate the meridians' Internal Organs.


Three principles of acupressure in Keiraku Shiatsu: 

  • Vertical pressure

  • Sustained pressure (3-7seconds or 1 to 2 breaths per pressure)

  • Supported pressure (the practitioner never relies on their muscle strength to apply pressure but by leaning on the receiver using their own body weight)

State of the practitioner's mind


A meditative calm state of the practitioner's mind is a fundamental skill for Keiraku Shiatsu's palpatory diagnosis. They strive to cultivate such state of mind and intuition, rather than improving sensory skills. 


The ability to discern, discriminate, and distinguish something on a physical level is the work of what Masunaga calls epicritic sensation. The term, epicritic means 'the aspect of somatic sensation that permits the discrimination and the topographic localisation of the finer degrees of touch and temperature stimuli' ( Masunaga interprets the epicritic sensation as a sensory system under the cerebral neocortex function that objectively recognises things. The ego was born in response to it. The epicritic sense is a highly discriminative sensation developed to promptly catch external danger or abnormalities. Thus, we become prepared to take actions to respond to them (sympathetic nervous system). Its perception is conscious and sensitive to change and movement.


The opposite of epicritic sensation is protopathic sensation/sensibility. The protopathic sensation is governed by the parasympathetic nervous system and the older region of the brain, such as the limbic system, directly related to autonomic bodily functions. Its viewpoint is life-oriented, emotional and subjective as opposed to analytical and objective of the epicritic sensibility. Keiraku Shiatsu diagnosis requires protopathic sensibility. We access this state when our body is at the state of muscle tonus (or residual muscle tension). Muscle tonus means the continuous and passive contraction of the muscles. It could also be called postural muscle tone. Muscle tonus occurs during the resting state of the muscle and maintaining posture. During this state of mental and physical relaxation, when we do not give attention to external stimuli, our sensory perception becomes numb, leading us to the sensation that we are dissolving the separation between ourselves and the patient. The practitioner feels as if they become one; thus, the practitioner can perceive any abnormalities and imbalances in the patient. We cannot detect Deficiency/Kyo and Jitsu/Excess by the sensory perception of the palpation alone. Only through this state of oneness, we can. 

Benefit of Keiraku Shiatsu

Shiatsu's purpose is not about curing disease as isolated entities, but it aims to help the patient reach their optimum health so that their body can heal on its own. Keiraku Shiatsu is also one of the safest therapies. It is simple, yet has a reliable effect when applied correctly. Keiraku Shiatsu can help numerous physical, psychological and emotional problems.



Full-body 60 min / 90 min

The treatment takes place on a mattress on the floor. The receiver is fully clothed. We recommend that you wear loose comfortable clothing for treatment. 

Before Shiatsu treatment 

  • Please wear loose, comfortable clothes.

  • Do not have a large meal or any alcohol.

  • Read consultation form carefully and sign after making sure you understood everything. 


You cannot have treatment if you: 

  • have fever

  • have been pregnant for less than three months

  • have any serious illness or injuries that need GP's approval to have treatment, and you haven't obtained one

  • have any medical condition that requires immediate medical help such as infection, fever, injuries that are still at the acute stage.

  • have any contagious disease such as skin disease, and infection.

Eri Ito - Shiatsu Acupuncture 

BSc(Hons), LicAc

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