Shiatsu is an evolution of anma massage that developed in XIX century in Japan. During the 20th century shiatsu was known worldwide, and from 1955 shiatsu was acknowledged as a beneficial treatment by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare and started to license practitioners.

Shiatsu is an acupressure type of massage based on the concept of ki, which is the energy that flows through everything in the universe. The ki is not a Japanese invention but a Chinese one, they believe that the ki flows through the body along special energy pathways called meridians. Each meridian is associated with a vital organ, that is the reason why in Asian traditional medicine, diseases are believed to occur due to disruptions on the flow of energy in the body.

Shiatsu aims to restore the flow of energy touching the skin and the meridian lines, apply pressure into the acupoints, which are tiny energy structures that affect the flow of the ki.

Western medicine has not proven the existence of meridians and acupoints. However, in one study, two French medical doctors conducted an experiment at Necher Hospital in Paris to test the validity of the theory that energy is being transported along acupuncture meridians. They injected and traced isotypes with gamma-camera imaging. The meridians may actually correspond to nerve transmission lines. In this view, shiatsu and other forms of healing massage may trigger the emission of naturally occurring chemicals called neurotransmitters. The release of these chemical messengers may be responsible for some of the therapeutic effects associated with shiatsu, such as pain relief.

What is shiatsu 指圧?

That is a great question, sometimes we heard and say words that if we had to explain the concept we would be speechless. Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese technique of body pressure, combining different techniques and using in the massage, the fingers, thumbs and palms along with stretching, it is supposed to touch the energetic points and meridians of our body to move inner energy. It is said that it is a great technique for back pain and muscle contracture.

It is a relaxing massage so even though you have no specific pain it is also great to relax and also to fight against stress, anxiety and sleepless nights. See a video of how shiatsu looks like.


There is no evidence that shiatsu is an effective medical treatment, but a study done in Paris in Necher Hospital, they proved the theory that the meridians may correspond to nerve transmission lines. Knowing that, this form of massage may trigger the emission of natural chemicals, the neurotransmitters. The release of this chemicals might be associated with the therapeutic effects found in Shiatsu. It is said that shiatsu is good for relaxation, back pain, headache, premenstrual syndrome, anxiety, tiredness, stress etc...

What Should you Expect during a shiatsu session?

The treatment is normally done on a low massage table or on the floor and unlike other types of massage. in shiatsu no oil is applied, so your clothes are on - bring comfortable clothes- or you are given comfortable clothes to wear or preferably a thin garment made from natural fibers. 

Be aware that is not recommended for people with certain conditions such as infectious skin diseases, immediately after surgery or after chemotherapy. Pregnant women should check their doctor first before considering any type of massage or bodywork.

Before the shiatsu treatment begins, the therapist does a general health assessment and an examination by palpating the abdomen or the back for any energy imbalances present in the body so it can be worked in the session.

Try not to eat a heavy meal before the shiatsu, I never eat before any massage otherwise it might be uncomfortable if you are in the massage table looking down.

My experience with traditional Japanese shiatsu in Barcelona

Futon shiatsu

I am a massage expert and I can tell you I had loads of massages in different techniques, oils and creams, stones, herb bags, chocolate wraps etc...So I was a bit curious on having a traditional Japanese shiatsu massage in Amalur Zen.

I have always had an issue with finger pressing massages as my skin is very sensitive and it gets red and hurts in the end, so I was a bit scared. Here it comes my surprise, I met my therapist for the session: Sandra.

I lied down in the futon and she started touching my back, she was very gentle but with enough strenght to make a difference. I really liked the combination between softness and pressure. 

Even though I am ok with no major injuries, all my stress tends to store in my back and neck so I totally needed this. I felt amazing, and I felt that my body little by little was relaxing and getting back all the energy when it flow without any obstacle.

It was incredible that I didn't know some parts of my body existed until I noticed those hands on me and how when reflexology is used it turns on some parts of your body. I totally enjoyed the session, she was kind but not soft, the massage was exactly what it had to be, working through the places that needed more attention but with not a painful experience. I recommend it to everyone, it is not as any other shiatsu session I had. If this is the traditional shiatsu, I am totally into it. Check out their different shiatsu massages they offer.

Japanese lifting in Barcelona

Japanse facial lifing

In Ambrosia spa, they offer a very special facial massage called a Japanese lifting that uses shiatsu and drainage techniques to lift the skin. There is nothing that can't prevent you from getting old -unfortunately there is no elixir for youth yet-, but there is a therapy that is not aggressive, with no pain and totally natural that helps improve the aspect of your skin face. 

No machines are used for the lifting, is all finger pressure and massage in your face through the different techniques used. If you are looking for a firm and natural look, the therapist looks for energy blockages and touches your facial muscles to relax them and reduce any swelling. The massage also reduces wrinkles, skin flabbiness, rising of the facial oval and the cheeks, stimulates collagen production as well as regulate the humidity in the skin.

Apart from the technical part of the massage having experienced this Japanese lifting, I felt like the massage was done all over my body, so relaxing and seeing myself before and after the massage, my expression lines were softened and my skin looked better than ever, renewed and with a very natural glow. I would recommend it for everyone, young people and not that young, since taking care of yourself and relax every part of your body is not a matter of age.

If you book a Japanese lifting and you name that are coming from Tourismwithme,  you will get a 10 euros discount in your first session as a reader of Tourismwithme. Book your japanese lifting here.

The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.