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Japanese Acupuncture

With super thin needles placed just a millimeter under the skin, this form of acupuncture is an extra gentle way of healing.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 9, 2016

Japanese acupuncture is closely related to Chinese acupuncture, with a few important differences. Japanese acupuncture is generally associated with greater needle placement precision, thinner needles and more carefully guided insertions. Traditionally, Japanese acupuncturists have been blind; blindness is said to increase sensitivity to qi, the energy force in the body.

The origins of Japanese Acupuncture: Acupuncture was first brought to Japan from China approximately 1,500 years ago (supposedly in 562 by a Chinese monk). It was used for much the same reasons as acupuncture was used in China—for anesthesia, for the treatment of muscle and skeletal pain, and the alleviation of chronic ailments like asthma, arthritis and insomnia.

Benefits Of Japanese Acupuncture

Japanese acupuncture follows the same philosophy as Chinese acupuncture, targeting the nerve meridians of the body with needles to free qi and balance yin and yang. Japanese acupuncture can be used for a variety of ailments, including muscular and skeletal pain, arthritis, insomnia, headache, depression, PMS and infertility.

What To Expect

Japanes acupuncture sessions start much like other acupuncture sessions. The therapist will check your pulse, examine your tongue and skin, and ask you about current health issues. There are a few important differences, however.

Japanese acupuncture uses thinner needs than in standard Chinese acupuncture, and typically fewer of them. In addition, the needles are inserted very lightly—up to a millimeter at most. Finally, the needles are guided into the skin using a tube for greater precision. (While the tube insertion technique has been used in Japanese acupuncture since the 18th century, the method has now been adopted by many Chinese acupuncturists as well. Moxibustion, the use of burning mugwort to stimulate the nerve meridians through heat, is also more commonly combined with Japanese than Chinese acupuncture.

Recommended sessions: The number of sessions will depend on the condition to be treated and the response of the patient to acupuncture.

Preparation: Be prepared to discuss your medical issues with your practitioner. Wear loose clothing. Do not eat or drink alcohol for up to four hours before treatment.


Because relatively few needles are used and placement is so shallow, Japanese acupuncture is a very low risk procedure. Make sure needles are sterile and disposable as reused needles can cause skin and blood infections. Moxibustion runs the risk of burning the skin if that technique is incorporated.

Who wouldn't benefit: Japanese acupuncture is suitable for children and pregnant women, though pregnant women should still inform their therapist.

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