Even though there is great variation in styles of acupuncture in Japan, there is a tendency to emphasise skillful palpation and gentle stimulation. In Japanese acupuncture the skin is seen as the interface by which information is received and conveyed to the body as a whole. It is thought that the body is more readily stimulated and affected on the surface. Therefore the ideal is to find a difference or reaction close to the surface where it can be most readily affected. This makes Japanese acupuncture treatment less invasive and reduces undesirable side effects including pain.
Japanese acupuncture, employs very gentle needle techniques so it is especially suited to the treatment of the very young, weak or sensitive patient. Japanese acupuncture emphasises the treatment of the cause of disease (root treatment) while also addressing the symptoms (branch treatment). Japanese acupuncture relies on six position pulse diagnosis, abdominal diagnosis and direct palpation of deficiency and excess on the meridians. The root treatment is rendered by subtle tonification and dispersion techniques.
Influence of Japanese Acupuncture
Use of guide tubes for needle insertion became almost universal since the introduction of disposable needles by Seirin Co. in Japan in the 1970s.
There is a growing appreciation for touch-based diagnosis and a greater attention to palpatory findings in deciding where and how to needle.
The level of personal attention and skilled touch provided in Japanese acupuncture resonates with many western/european patients. More patients are seeking individualised care that includes nurturing touch and less invasive techniques.
Chinese medicine arrived in Japan through Korea in the 6th century and has been practiced for over 14 centuries.
There is a large contingent of acupuncturists in Japan who base their practice on the classics of Chinese medicine. “Traditional Japanese Medicine" is the style of Japanese acupuncture based on traditional Chinese concepts as taught by Masakazu Ikeda.
While Chinese acupuncture today is closely allied with herbal medicine, Japanese acupuncture has developed in close proximity to massage and moxibustion. In Japanese styles of acupuncture great importance is placed on palpation, careful location and stimulation of reactive points.
Techniques Used in Japanese Acupuncture
Contact needling: The needle, rather than being inserted, is used to prick or stroke the skin surface.
Simple insertion: The needle is withdrawn after reaching a certain depth without applying additional techniques.
Retaining needles: The needle is left in after insertion.
Moxa needle: Moxa is placed on the head of the inserted needle and burned.
Intradermal needles and press tacks: A miniscule needle is inserted in the skin, taped on and left in place for one day to one week.
Scraping needles: Needles are used to stimulate the skin by scratching and scraping.
Press needles: Needles are used to press and stimulate points on the skin surface.
Shonishin: Non-insertion acupuncture techniques on the skin surface. Often used with children
Electro-acupuncture: Electrodes are attached after needles are inserted to apply a low frequency current (1 to 100 Hz).
Moxibustion (Okyu): There is a great reliance on the use of rice grain and heat perception moxibustion to complement acupuncture treatment.
Key Concepts of Japanese Acupuncture
TOUCH. It is a palpation-based acupuncture.
VARIETY. Palpation leads to individual variation.
There is considerable variation within Japanese acupuncture.
GENTLE. The tendency is to use milder stimulation.
Japanese acupuncture tends to use milder stimulation and seek patient comfort.