An Acupuncture Tradition From The Blind Toyo Hari Masters Of Japan.
Most people know that acupuncture is an ancient tradition of holistic medicine, which has been practiced continuously in China for at least the last two thousand years. What most people don’t know is that many other Asian countries have a long history of acupuncture and have also developed very vibrant and innovative approaches to this ancient healing tradition. Japan is one of those countries with a very dynamic tradition of acupuncture which has taken a markedly different approach to that of the Chinese. While it is Chinese acupuncture that has taken the lead in the practice of Oriental medicine in the west, interest is increasing in some of the other traditions and a growing movement in Japanese acupuncture is beginning to emerge.
A brief history of Acupuncture in Japan
The practice of acupuncture seems to have originated in China roughly around 200-100 BCE. Knowledge of Acupuncture appears to have been brought to Japan from China by a physician-monk named Zhicong (Chiso in Japanese) in the year 562 C.E.1 He is said to have brought with him over 160 volumes of Chinese medical texts, which represented the state of the art of the medicine at that time. By the 8th century government sponsored acupuncture medical schools had been established in Japan and medical knowledge from China continued to be assimilated by the Japanese. However, by the middle of the 10th century political tensions began to arise between China and Japan and contact with China became increasingly cut off. It was during this period that Japanese physicians began making refinements to the Chinese system and started to make their own unique innovations to the medicine.
Around the end of the 17th century some very interesting things started happening in Japan acupuncture. It was during this time that a blind acupuncturist named Waichi Sugiyama became famous by inventing a special insertion tube (which is still in use today) that allowed for less painful insertion of the needle. Sugiyama went on to establish the first acupuncture school for the blind in Japan and this was the beginning of what has become one of the most interesting and unique characteristics of Japanese acupuncture: a strong influence by a large contingent of blind practitioners.