Chinese acupuncture was introduced to Japan about 1,500 years ago.
The basic principles, including the idea of meridians, remained the same as in
the Chinese meridian system.
However, in general, Japanese practitioners use finer needles, stimulate more superficially and gently, and often
do not consider the strong de-qi sensation
(a sensation of numbness, heaviness, or distention at the area of needle insertion) to be of primary
Traditional diagnostic techniques used by Japanese practitioners are also the same as in TCM, although the
technique’s emphasis can be slightly different.
One of the most notable Japanese contributions to the field is the
development of Kanshinho, a guiding tube insertion method developed by the famous seventeenth-century blind
acupuncturist Waichi Sugiyama.
The guiding tube method, which drastically decreases the pain associated with the initial insertion of the needle,
is now utilized by practitioners worldwide.
Many Japanese acupuncturists use moxibustion (traditional heat therapy). Although moxibustion is an integral part of the
original concepts of classical acupuncture, it has not been taught in depth in the Western acupuncture educational
and training system.
It should be noted that, in North America, “Japanese Acupuncture” has been
taught primarily in postgraduate CEU courses. However, some of the “Japanese Acupuncture” taught in such courses
may be quite different in style from what is actually taught in accredited acupuncture schools in Japan.
Japanese Acupuncture is best known for its use of thinner needles and
shallower insertions. It developed approximately 1,500 years ago when the influence of China spread to Japan.
The thinner needles were adapted to better suit the more subtle nature of the Japanese culture. In fact, many
Japanese-style acupuncturists perform only contact needling, which does not even puncture the surface of the
This “softer” style is very suitable for children who often have fear of
needles. Japanese acupuncturists also place less emphasis on the needle sensation as an indication of clinical
There are many styles of Japanese acupuncture
practiced in Japan; however in the United States, Meridian Therapy and Kiiko Matsumoto style are the most common.
Meridian Therapy focuses on diagnosis via the pulse and meridian palpation, and then uses subtle needle techniques
to balance the meridians.
Kiiko Matsumoto style of acupuncture utilizes body palpation, especially of the abdomen, to treat the disharmonies
that are felt in the body.
Due to the fact that acupuncture spread to Japan long before the
Communist revolution in China, Japanese acupuncture has also retained much of the spiritual aspects of the
Acupuncture is still very popular in Japan today and functions as alternative and complementary