Shiatsu is rooted in Oriental Medicine, a field that is over 3,000 years old. Traditional Oriental Medicine views the body, and all that is in the universe, as energy fields. These fields are interconnected parts of the whole. There is no part that is of greater or lesser importance or influence. Oriental Medicine is based upon observation of people and their environments over thousands of years.
Different forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine where developed in relationship to their particular regions and climates. The northern, southern, eastern, and western regions all used treatments that incorporate herbs, needles and heat. The central region developed physical therapy like massage and breathing exercises.
Buddhist monks introduced Chinese medicine to Japan in the 6th Century. The Japanese then developed their own methods of diagnoses and healing, in relationship to their own culture and climate. They developed the arts of manual healing, abdominal diagnosis, treatment and abdominal massage, which comprise the Shiatsu methods.
Traditionally, Shiatsu was taught individually from master to student. It was not until after WWII that schools of Shiatsu were started by some of the Shiatsu masters, enabling them to expand the worldwide network of healers. These schools form the bases of the various forms of Shiatsu practiced today.