What's the difference between Japanese and Chinese Acupuncture?
Japanese acupuncture is a lot more comfortable to the client than Chinese (TCM) acupuncture.
- Japanese acupuncture needles are thinner and sharper than Chinese - that means that the needling itself is pain-free or nearly pain-free.
- In Japanese acupuncture, the needling is very shallow: Only 1-5 mm as opposed to 10-50 mm in Chinese acupuncture.
- The sensation elicited when an acupuncture point is ‘activated’, is much gentler and more subtle than that required in Chinese style needling
- In Japanese style acupuncture, treatment with warmth - moxibustion - is used more widely.
But what is Japanese Acupuncture?
Japanese Acupuncture is an umbrella term given to several styles of acupuncture that were either developed or refined in Japan. They are all based on Chinese Medicine, and they have several common features:
First, there is a strong emphasis on palpation and diagnosis by touch.
This has historic reasons: In Japan, acupuncture and massage are traditionally professions of the the blind. Naturally, they refined and perfected diagnosis and treatment by touch. That is why in Japanese acupuncture, the hara (the abdomen) is palpated for diagnosis, and every acupuncture point is palpated before treating it.
Next is the use of very thin needles which are inserted with a guiding tube. This makes needle insertion painless. The thinner needles and shallow insertion provide a milder stimulation than the thicker Chinese needles.
Japan, like New Zealand, is an industrialised country. The "dosage" of Japanese acupuncture is perfectly suited to people with an urban lifestyle.
Finally, direct moxibustion is a prominent feature of Japanese acupuncture styles. Moxibustion is the warming of acupoints by burning moxa, a substance derived from the mugwort plant.
Generally, the Japanese approach to acupuncture is gentle and very effective at the same time.
Meridian Therapy is a school of Japanese Acupuncture with strong emphasis on the Classic Chinese texts on medicine. Similar to Five-Element Acupuncture, the root of the disease is sought and treated first (root treatment). Symptomatic treatment (branch treatment) is only performed afterwards. Unlike many Chinese styles of acupuncture, which seeks to influence inner organs directly, Meridian Therapy actively regulates the meridians only, and relies on the organs' ability to heal once the meridians are balanced.
The needle techniques of Meridian Therapy are very gentle - during the root treatment only one needle at a time is used. Needle insertions are very shallow, between 0.5 mm and 2 mm.
Nagano Protocols - symptomatic treatment
The acupuncture protocols developed by Master Nagano (and taught in the West by Kiiko Matsumoto) combine Classical Chinese medical principles with modern research. They are very effective and usually provide immediate symptom relief. They involve a lot of palpation (diagnosis by touch).
During Nagano Protocol acupuncture, several needles may be left in place for a couple of minutes. However, you will not be left alone with the needles in place.