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A photograph of a typical Meiji-era anma

Anma (Kanji: Hiragana: ) refers to both a prac-
tice of traditional Japanese massage and to practitioners
of that art. Modern shiatsu is largely derived from anma.
1 History
Anma is thought to be of Chinese origin, developing
from Tui Na. Tui Na techniques arrived in Japan dur-
ing the Nara period (710793 CE), along with other
techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and were
practiced in government-sponsored hospitals. Anma as
a unique system was founded in 1320 by Akashi Kan
Anma was popularised in the seventeenth cen-
tury by acupuncturist Sugiyama Waichi, and around the
same time the rst books on the subject, including Fu-
jibayashi Ryohakus Anma Tebiki (Manual of Anma),
The Fujibayashi school is the foundation of
modern anma.
Anma (masseurs) were often nomadic,
earning their keep in mobile massage capacities, and pay-
ing commissions to their referrers. In the nineteenth cen-
tury, the image of anma suered somewhat from an as-
sociation with the ukiyo lifestyle of urban Japan, and it
was subsequently less well-regarded as a therapy.
During the Meiji period, the appearance of Western
medicine reduced anmas prominence still further. Many
of its techniques were subsumed into shiatsu and Western
massage practices, although research into anma for med-
ical purposes continues at Tokyo Kyoiku University.
Anma is still practiced independently of shiatsu in Japan,
with practitioners being certied by the health board of
their local prefecture.
2 Blind practitioners
Since Sugiyamas time, anma has been strongly associ-
ated with the blind.
Sugiyama, blind himself, estab-
lished a number of medical schools for the blind which
taught this practice. During the Tokugawa period, edicts
were passed which made the practice of anma solely the
preserve of the blind sighted people were prohibited
from practicing the art.
As a result, the blind anma
has become a popular trope in Japanese culture.
has continued into the modern era, with a large propor-
tion of the Japanese blind community continuing to work
in the profession.
During the Occupation of Japan by the Allies after
World War II, the practice of anma was banned (along
with other aspects of traditional Japanese culture) by
General MacArthur. The ban prevented a large propor-
tion of Japans blind community from earning a living.
Writer and advocate for blind rights Helen Keller, on be-
ing made aware of the prohibition, interceded with the
United States government; at her urging, the ban was
In recent years the ctional character of Zatoichi, the
blind swordsman, has brought the concept of the blind
anma into the public eye in the West.
Blind anma are
also commonly used to comedic eect in Japanese cin-
3 Techniques
Anma practices uses common massage techniques such
as kneading, rubbing, tapping and shaking. These activi-
ties are directed at specic vital points and meridians on
the body.
The seven traditional techniques are: press-
ing/stroking, grasping/kneading, strengthening, com-
pressing, vibrating, tapping and hand music. In ad-
dition, methods of abdominal palpitation (ampuku), de-
veloped by Shinsai Ota in the seventeenth century, are
It is considered quite a vigorous form of
massage, with gripping movements intended to increase
blood ow to the muscles and deep tissues, and force-
ful acupressure techniques applied with the knuckles.
The treatment is usually performed through the clothing,
rather than directly on the skin.
4 References
[1] Jya, Moku (1985). Mock Jyas Things Japanese. The
Japan Times. p. 55.
[2] Fu ren da xue (Beijing, China). Ren lei xue bo wu guan;
S.V.D. Research Institute; Society of the Divine Word
(1962). Folklore studies. p. 235. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
[3] Kaneko, Dr. DoAnn T. (2006). Shiatsu Anma Therapy.
HMAUCHI. ISBN 9780977212804.
[4] Louis Frdric (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard
University Press. pp. 2829. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-
5. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
[5] Micozzi, Marc S. (2001). Fundamentals of complemen-
tary and alternative medicine. Churchill Livingstone. p.
120. ISBN 9780443065767.
[6] Liza Criheld Dalby (1984). All-Japan: the catalogue of
everything Japanese. Morrow. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-688-
02530-4. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
[7] Young, Jacqueline (2007). Complementary Medicine
For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 99. ISBN
[8] Beresford-Cooke, Carola (2010). Shiatsu Theory
and Practice. Elsevier Health Sciences. ISBN
[9] American Foundation for the Blind (1973). The New out-
look for the blind 67. p. 178.
[10] Beresford-Cooke, Carola (2003). Shiatsu Theory and
Practice: A Comprehensive Text for the Student and Pro-
fessional. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 2. ISBN
[11] David West (26 December 2006). Chasing Dragons: An
Introduction to the Martial Arts Film. I.B.Tauris. pp. 33.
ISBN 978-1-85043-982-0. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
[12] Kiiko Matsumoto; Stephen Birch (1988). Hara Diagnosis:
Reections on the Sea. Paradigm Publications. pp. 315.
ISBN 978-0-912111-13-1. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
[13] Carl Dubitsky (1 May 1997). Bodywork Shiatsu: Bring-
ing the Art of Finger Pressure to the Massage Table. Inner
Traditions * Bear & Company. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-89281-
526-5. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
[14] Jacqueline Young (26 October 2007). Complementary
Medicine For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 99. ISBN
978-0-470-51968-4. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
5 External links
American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of
6 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses
6.1 Text
Anma Source: Contributors: Olivier, Skysmith, Amcaja, Orangemike, Brainy J, Re-
tired username, Asarelah, Eeee, SmackBot, Nihonjoe, Commander Keane bot, Lombroso, Bluebot, BlackbeardSCBC, Onorem, Ohcon-
fucius, Rigadoun, Bronayur, Hu12, Gogo Dodo, Heroeswithmetaphors, Mokakeiche, Sunowerhealing, Zipp Dementia, Scottywong,
Moonriddengirl, Oda Mari, Addbot, Megan Hieatt, Queenmomcat, Cuaxdon, Teles, Ptbotgourou, Yngvadottir, MastiBot, Yunshui, Joan-
nelee2009, ZroBot, Saralicia, ClueBot NG, Dpakji, BG19bot, AvocatoBot, Cerabot, Yotsume and Anonymous: 11
6.2 Images
File:Ijl_no3_1906_3ed_10_amma-1.jpg Source:
amma-1.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Original artist: Ogawa
6.3 Content license
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0