What is Japanese Acupuncture? (Part 2)

The catalyst of this movement came predominantly from the blind acupuncturist tradition in Japan where acupuncture was a traditional profession for the blind. These highly skilled practitioners benefitted from their highly sensitive sense of touch using very thin needles and gentle treatments to achieve outstanding results. They believed that acupuncture and moxibustion were only effective if the practitioners were well versed in and practiced classical concepts and techniques.

As the influence of western medicine in Japan grew, these practitioners faced a looming crisis as western concepts continued to undermine classical medical theories and disenfranchise the physicians who practiced them. A group of concerned and committed physicians such as Yanagiya Sorei, Okabe Sodo, Takeyama Shinichiro, and Inoue Keiri worked tirelessly to find and learn from senior physicians who were still practicing classical techniques. Much of the classical tradition was based on using the body’s meridians or energetic pathways to treat disease and promote health. The young men who worked so hard to preserve these traditions also incorporated some of the modern western scientific understanding of how the body works into their treatment philosophy.

Just as this neoclassical form of Japanese acupuncture was beginning to flourish, the dark clouds of World War II consumed Japan and the renewal of this valuable medicine was threatened once again. The difficult times that followed Japan’s defeat saw all forms of acupuncture and moxibustion banned by the U.S. occupation government as many reforms were instituted. At this time, all the differences among acupuncture physicians were set aside as they all worked to reinstate their rights to practice traditional forms of medicine. Following their reinstatement to practice medicine in 1948, many of the old arguments resurfaced and the debate continues today.

To be continued…

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