Activating your self-healing power

Diseases and other physical problems occur when the life balance has become upset. Conventional medicine mainly attempts to treat the symptoms caused by this imbalance, primarily through the use of medicine. Although the symptoms are suppressed by the medicine, however, the underlying problems with the life balance remain unresolved. The acupuncture developed in Japan is, on the other hand, a medical method which activates the patient’s own innate self-healing power to the maximum possible extent. It recognizes the fundamental importance of these underlying imbalances and accepts them as part of the overall life process which even includes diseases and their symptoms. Through acupuncture treatment aimed at regulating and correcting the life balance, the patient’s self-healing power is activated to the maximum possible extent and, as a result, the disease is healed.

What is Japanese Acupuncture?

Acupuncture was originally introduced from China, but during the national isolation of the Edo era (1603-1868 CE) Japan developed its own distinctive style. In this era, acupuncture and massage were traditionally professions of the blind and they naturally refined and perfected methods of 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. Compared to the Edo Era, people nowadays do much less physical labor and there has been an overwhelming shift to more mental work. As a result, the Japanese acupuncture treatment style has been changing to one which focuses more on the brain and the autonomic nervous system and deals with more delicate physical issues.

What Makes Japanese Acupuncture Unique?

Compared to traditional Chinese acupuncture, the techniques used in Japanese Acupuncture are often gentler, more delicate and less painful. The softer style of Japanese acupuncture is ideally suited to the urbanized world of today. Two of the techniques that define Japanese acupuncture are the use of “goshin” (filiform) and “hinaishin” (intradermal) needles.


Filiform needles (“goshin” in Japanese) are very thin and sharp and a guide tube is usually used for insertion. Combined, these two features make the insertion very quick and painless. With diameters between 0.12 and 0.16 mm, the filiform needles I use are as thin as a few strands of hair, almost five times thinner than the smallest equivalent traditional Chinese acupuncture needles (0.32 to 0.38 mm). For comparison, the standard intravenous needles used for drawing blood are about 0.8 mm in diameter. Another unique feature of Japanese acupuncture is shallow insertion. The lengths of the filiform needles I use most often range from about 30 to 40 mm but the typical insertion depths are between 5 and 10 mm. For patients with a particular dislike of needles, the filiform ones can also be used with a non-insertion technique in which the tip of the needle rests on or above the skin but does not puncture it. The filiform needles used in Japanese acupuncture always come individually wrapped and sterilized.


The use of “hinaishin”, or intradermal needles, is another very useful acupuncture technique that was developed in Japan. These stainless steel needles are very short (3 mm) with one end being sharp for insertion and the other end bending around in a circle so that it can’t go too deeply into the skin. Unlike the filiform needles, which go in vertically, the intradermal needles are inserted sideways into the skin and taped in place to provide the acupuncture point with gentle but ongoing stimulation for up to one week. Since the intradermal needles are very shallow and they are carefully fixed in place with medical tape, patients can go about their daily lives without any problems. In addition to the general stimulus each technique generates, it goes without saying that there are special effects which come from the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. These points are non-static living phenomena whose natures and locations can change over time and according to the unique characteristics of each individual patient. They cannot be located accurately just by looking at a chart in a textbook. Acupuncture treatment is of little value if the practitioner only operates by rote and lacks the awareness and palpation skill needed to detect the points requiring treatment for each patient and their exact location. Effective acupuncture treatment is only possible when the practitioner’s theoretical knowledge and understanding of the points is matched by his or her experience and sensitivity in the fingertips. This individualized, “hands-on” approach to finding the exact location of each patient’s important points is one of the key features of Japanese acupuncture.

About Naoki Hattori’s Acupuncture

– Reading the body by touch I place much more importance on the actual sensations I get from my patients during their treatments than on theory. Of course, an in-depth knowledge and understanding of acupuncture theory is very important for generalizing and systematizing acupuncture treatment, but when you interact with and treat each individual patient, too much reliance on theory can sometimes fetter your ability to understand their unique needs. By palpating each person (pulse, abdomen, acupuncture points) I read their body precisely and provide treatment that is tailor-made for their particular situation. – A holistic approach I also take into account all the different aspects – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual – of a patient and their acupuncture points during the treatment. Quite often, I find that the points which are most useful for treating a client’s physical problem also reflect their current emotional, mental or spiritual issues.