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Hari Style Japanese Acupuncture

HARI is a highly refined form of Traditional Japanese Meridian Therapy (Keiraku-chiryo). Meridian Therapy is a branch of acupuncture that has developed over centuries in Japan and which is heavily focused on the palpatory diagnosis and gentle hands-on techniques to balance the body’s Ki (Japanese for Qi) which enhances the innate healing and correcting functions of the body while also effectively treating the immediate symptoms.  Practitioners of this style spend significant time and effort in the cultivation of their energetic sensitivity and have expert ability to perceive Ki through the palpatory Ki diagnosis, pulse diagnosis, and delicate needle techniques. In a HARI practitioner’s training, Mind/Body posture is also stressed as an integral aspect of treatment to be mastered. The theoretical foundations of Hari are derived directly from the ancient Chinese and Japanese Medical Classics, in particular, the Su Wen, Ling Shu, and Nan Jing. Every theory used in Hari practice has been tested and validated through extensive clinical practice and training.

To affect change in the Ki flow of the patient’s system and create balance a HARI practitioner’s energy must be connected to the patient’s energy through the needle and therefore the techniques are quite hands-on and the practitioner typically remains engaged in the treatment process for more time than most other treatment styles.  This hands-on, dynamic approach to treatment means the practitioner can be very responsive to the subtle energetic changes that take place throughout the treatment process and adapt at the moment to the energetic needs of the patient.

HARI utilizes needle techniques, highly refined moxibustion techniques, bodywork, magnets, pressballs, and intradermal needles as some of its most common treatment tools.  Each treatment is unique to the patient's presentation at the time of care and what is used in one session may not be appropriate in another session.  The practitioner will select the most appropriate tool(s) at the time of your treatment to affect the necessary change to create balanced Ki flow in the meridians and improvement in your overall health and wellness and a resulting reduction of your symptoms.  

“What’s the difference between Japanese and Chinese acupuncture?” 

The answer to this question is complex and involves cultural, political, historical, and academic influences in the two countries over vast periods of time. To provide a brief background, acupuncture is said to have been taught and practiced in China for more than 2000 years. There is much scholarly debate on the timeline but the oldest existing written records date back over 2100 years ago and much longer than that based on oral traditions and with newer archeological finds like Otzi the “iceman”.  His body was preserved in ice and snow over 5000 years ago and there are tattoo markings on it that are hypothesized to be related to acupuncture points used for health conditions he suffered from.

Acupuncture was introduced to Japan from China about 1500 years ago and the path of evolution for the treatment modality was deeply impacted by the unique cultural, political and academic influences exerted over time in the two countries over the centuries.

The practical, notable differences to the patient on the treatment table tend to be in the application of needle techniques and the tools used in treatment.  A brief and simplified list of some of the hallmark differences between the two approaches can be outlined as follows but remember that these are broad generalizations and there are exceptions to all of these items in both styles:

●       The thickness of the needle chosen for treatment tends to be thinner in Japanese styles and thicker in Chinese styles. (Note: Our office uses the smallest needles made for all styles of acupuncture, not just Japanese.) 

●       The depth of insertion of a needle will typically be more shallow in a Japanese style treatment and deeper in a Chinese style treatment. 

●       While both styles can have periods of time where the needles are left in the points while the patient rests, Chinese styles tend to leave the needles in for longer while Japanese Styles will tend to limit the amount of needle retention time.

●       Japanese Meridian Therapy styles have many needling techniques which do not require puncturing the skin but are done on the surface of the skin (non-insertive techniques) while Chinese styles nearly always require puncturing the skin.

It is important to note that the differences outlined above are not hard and fast rules of either the Chinese or the Japanese approach to acupuncture.  Both styles have elements of the other within them and both come from the same source.  Not all Chinese style practitioners will do strong manipulation and deeper needling as described above nor will all Japanese style practitioners use only thin needles and non-insertive techniques.  In any treatment provided by any skilled practitioner, the techniques and tools selected will be chosen appropriately for the patient presentation and there are always exceptions to these differences that are described above.

One interesting difference between the cultural and political influence on acupuncture in Japan which is evident in the emphasis in HARI of highly sensitive palpatory diagnosis comes from a strong tradition of blind practitioners of acupuncture. From the time of the Edo period (1600’s-1800’s) acupuncture has been one of the major occupations of the blind in Japan.  Blind practitioners most certainly have had a huge influence on the techniques used in meridian therapy styles today as they are heavily based on what the practitioner feels through touch.  Palpation is the hallmark of meridian therapy and the practitioner’s hands must be trained to heightened tactile sensitivity and perception to perform effective treatment with such gentle and subtle needle techniques.  Those without the sense of sight have a greater dependence on this tactile perception and thus needling techniques that are non-insertive and don’t require retaining the needles in place and returning to them later were a somewhat natural evolution in the practice of acupuncture in Japan given the preponderance of blind practitioners.

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