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Acupuncture uses body’s own healing power

People visit acupuncturist Yukihiro Murota of the harikyu acupuncture clinic in Shinagawa, Tokyo, for many different reasons: injuries, muscle pains, weight issues, fatigue, beauty care and often combinations of several of those.

News photoAcupuncturist Yukihiro Murota, owner of the harikyu acupuncture clinic in Shinagawa, Tokyo, on May 25 YOSHIAKI MIURA

"It is because we go after the root cause in traditional Asian medicine," Murota said. "In Western medicine, you have a pain in your knee so you go to an orthopedic clinic, or you have a headache and you take a painkiller prescribed by your physician," he continued.

"We don't just focus only on treating a single symptom at a time. The cause of the pains could be something that is seemingly unrelated, such as poor blood circulation or a gastrointestinal malfunction, and our job is to find it and to work on it holistically," he said.

He emphasizes the importance of a body's natural healing power especially in getting over chronic pains and discomfort. "Your natural healing power is maximized when your health is good, but the flood of information often misguides you to take in too much when your body desperately needs some rest and time to digest and detox," he pointed out.

"Feeding yourself all kinds of supplements and health foods is like stepping on the accelerator non-stop while your tired body is slamming on the brakes," he said.

Through communication with his patients and what he learns from the positioning of the spine or joints and the stiffness of muscles and internal organs, he develops the treatment best suited for patients that consists mainly of acupuncture and judo therapy.

Judo therapy is a licensed practice that originated in judo, and applies the movements unique to judo in treating typical damage to bones, muscles, joints and soft tissues without using surgical techniques or medicines.

Murota is also intent on making the atmosphere of his clinic as relaxing and comforting as possible. The rooms are finished in dark brown tones and there is a scent of essential oils, as well as an aquarium stocked with tropical fish to help calm patients. "The sense of privacy and relaxation helps you focus on your own body and inspire your natural healing power," he said.

One would imagine that the physical maintenance of an athlete and a beauty treatment require two totally different approaches, but Murota suggests otherwise.

"Of course, treatments are tailored for each person according to their problem, body type and lifestyle habits. But the core is the same for everyone; what makes your body healthy also makes you beautiful," he said.

Many of his patients are particularly interested in weight control. "Eating too much, exercising too little and becoming overweight as a result can cause a lot of health problems, so it is good to be self-conscious about weight," he said. However, he stressed that hitting a target should not be the goal.

"Many of those who go on a diet gain weight as fast as they lost it, and they repeat that cycle. If you go fast, you are exhausted by the time you reach the goal," he said. "It is important to aim for the ideal steadily, making sure that you don't backslide.

"Others lack a positive self-image," he said. For example, a person managed to follow 80 percent of the weight control plan, but he was too obsessed with the 20 percent that he failed to reach, blaming himself for it.

"Why not feel confident that you've come close enough? Thanks to the 20 percent failure, you can experience and learn many things such as how heavy your stomach feels when you eat what you didn't plan to, how difficult it is to get yourself back on track and more," he said.

"Having a positive self-image and learning from failures without letting them eat away at you is an important skill not only for those on a diet, but for everyone living in this competitive and stressful world," he added.

This attitude had a significant effect on Murota's career, too. When he had his acupuncture clinic in his hometown in Saitama Prefecture, he had a firm determination that he would launch the next one in the Tokyo metropolitan area within a few years. In a year and a half, he became the owner of harikyu located less than five minutes from Shinagawa station.

One of his patients who deeply empathized with Murota's way of thinking and believes in his skills and techniques, has recently offered part of the building he owns in Gotanda to launch a second clinic in Tokyo.

"I am supported by a lot of people around me and I want to do everything I can to keep them healthy and happy," he said with a smile.

This series has been prepared in collaboration with Enjin Co., which produces and operates a video website specializing in profiles of up-and-coming Japanese entrepreneurs.