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Meridian concepts in Japanese acupuncture

            Japanese acupunctureThe concept of meridians is a very important and fundamental pail of the traditional medicine that originated in China a few thousand years ago. However, since the existence of meridians had not been proven anatomically, the theory was treated somewhat flippantly, and some Western doctors even asserted that it was superstition. Consequently, the theory of meridian flow was largely discarded and meridian points became reinterpreted as ‘stimulative points’ for applying needles and moxa.

In this manner, herbal medicine and acupuncture and moxibustion were driven from their position as mainstream medicine to that of an alternative medicine, and the knowledge and practice of classic medical theory and its techniques gradually declined. The art of acupuncture and moxibustion especially, based on the theory of the course of flow in the meridians, went rapidly out of use. ‘Stimulative points’ therapy became the norm, divorced from the original meridian flow theory.

This perversion of traditional medicine was utterly unacceptable to doctors and healers who studied classical theory, and by the Showa era, which began in 1925 (almost 60 years after the Meiji Restoration), an acute sense of impending crisis prompted a group of young and concerned acupuncture and moxibustion practitioners to take action. Included in this group were Yanagiya Sorei, Okabe Sodo, Takeyama Shinichiro, and Inoue Keiri.

These healers, who had pursued the authentic path of acupuncture and moxibustion, were convinced through their experience in daily clinics and study of the classics that acupuncture and moxibustion could only be truly effective when practiced using classical concepts and techniques. Because sixty years had already passed, they felt a pressing need to find senior healers who were continuing to practice using the exact classical methods. They finally found an old healer, Yagishita Katsunosuke (1854-1946), in a small, poor fishing village in Chiba prefecture.

Yanagiya Sorei wrote: “There are many criticisms of classical traditional acupuncture and moxibustion treatment based on meridian flow theory, claiming, for example, that it isn’t scientific. However, the facts cannot be denied, Mr. Yagishita has been getting brilliant results using this theory. The results speak for themselves.”

Takeyama had this to say about Yagishita: “When I met him he was 88, but he was very energetic and looked to be only in his 60s. A person of no wants, he is afraid of nothing, and incomparably pure and noble. ”

Before the age of 60, Yagishita had practiced acupuncture and moxibustion in addition to his day job of running a haberdashery store. Thereafter he devoted himself entirely to his patients. Acupuncture and moxibustion were, for him, an art for the people and for the world. *

Okabe Sodo received Yagishita’s treatment directly and also recorded some important information that he received. For example, “For illness of the tongue, use the Heart meridian; for illness of the mouth and lips, use the Spleen meridian; for gout, apply moxibustion to BL-18 as well as GB-31 and LI-11, and apply needles to GV-20, GB-30, and LI-15; for illness of the ears, use the Triple Burner meridian on the arms and hands, the Gallbladder meridian on the legs and feet, and the Kidney meridian.”

In addition to Yagishita, Mori Dohaku is mentioned by Kamichi Sakae, an investigator of the history of modern Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion, as a classical healer who strongly influenced those young lions of the Showa era.

Those who were working for the revival of traditional acupuncture and moxibustion received great encouragement from their encounters with Yagishita and Mori, and from around 1920 to 1930 they worked on developing a neoclassical meridian treatment art based on tradition which was able to stand side by side with the scientific’ acupuncture and moxibustion art that the government had been advocating. This quest for a new acupuncture and moxibustion system, which involved the rediscovery and animation of the classic art, could be called a renaissance in the history of Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion.

excerpts from The practice of japanese acupuncture and moxibustion IKEDA MASAKAZU

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