The average lifespan of Japanese is listed as highest in the world. Japanese woman’s average lifespan has been first in the world for 25 years. In 2012 the World Health Organization ranked Japan first in the world with an average lifespan of 86.2; males rank number 1 at 85 and females rank number 2 at 87.3. The United Nations list for 2009-2012, lists Japan also as first with males at 79.29 and females at 86.96. To put this in perspective the United States is ranked 36th with an average life expectancy of 79.8; men 77.4 (32nd) and woman 82.3 (35th).
Shiatsu master Mr Takijiro Namikoshi has an opinion on what is necessary for good health and long life. In an interview at his Shiatsu salon in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo Japan, we discuss combining an orderly, regulated lifestyle with self shiatsu and these 5 basic rules.
I Proper Diet– one must eat the right foods, as well as the right amounts of food, in maintaining a proper diet. It is essential to consume enough, but not too much of the 3 major energy foods- protein, fats and carbohydrates. In addition the recommended vitamins, minerals and water are also needed to break down the food and convert it into energy. He believes breakfast is a must and if the portion must be small than a nutrient rich food should be chosen. The digestive organs are controlled by the vagus nerve. This means that emotional stress can lead to trouble with the alimentary system. Abdominal spiral shiatsu helps to improve the digestive and absorption activities. He also mentions that mental health is as important as physical health.
II Proper Sleep – People sleep about 1/3 of their lives, about 8 full hours a day. Sufficient sleep is essential to the recovery of illness and provides the necessary rest and relaxation for the organs and muscles. There are many sleep patterns but the ideal pattern is to fall asleep shortly after getting into bed, then to enter a deep sleep soon after and remain in a deep sleep until the morning when the sleep cycle ends. This cycle can be compared to a aircraft taking off, the flight gains altitude immediately and remains at the cruising altitude for the duration of the flight and gradually descends to land again at the destination point.
Find and use comfortable pillows and blankets. Mr Namikoshi has invented a special pillow for proper neck positioning. Daily self shiatsu on the neck and shoulders will also aid in proper sleep
III Proper functioning bowels: Under normal circumstances, a bowl movement is expected at least once a day, ideally immediately after breakfast in the morning. If the regime is regularly achieved, the alimentary system could be said to be functioning correctly, with nutrients being readily absorbed.
The amount and type of food consumed helps to determine one’s bowel movement. Excessively consuming heavy meals can lead to either constipation or diarrhea. Psychological impact can also influence bowl movements. Self abdominal shiatsu can aid in regular bowl movements and maintain proper digestion. Lying on the back in bed, find the 9 vital points of the abdominal area and press each point for 3- 5 seconds. The pressure can be applied with the palm of the hand or 3 fingers. Repeat this spiral massage daily and it will help to restore proper appetite, improve digestion and regulate bowl movement.
IV Proper exercise: One of the most direct ways to promote good health is with proper exercise combining leisure, work and sport or some other recreational activity. Human beings find motivation in a life with meaningful and goal oriented activities. However in today’s computerized society, the opportunities to display these vitalities are more limited. Means of transportation have become so convenient that people do not use their legs as much, preferring elevators or escalators for even a few steps. Under these conditions, people do not get enough exercise, which results in weak muscles.
A lack of exercise has been discussed as a root cause of obesity and other illnesses; people are encouraged to be more active with exercise, it is important to be physically active on a daily basis. Walking is specifically recommended to stimulate a healthy blood flow.
From the shiatsu standpoint, special attention is recommended in exercising the hands and fingers because like Immanuel Kant stated, the hands and the fingers are like a person’s second brain. The refinement of the hands and fingers skills directly relates to human brain activity. Exercises like drawing pictures and playing the piano have a tremendous positive influence on the development of a young child’s mental capacity. Thus, incorporating self Shiatsu as a lifelong habit, and from early age, will be powerful and impact a child’s life.
V Laughing – natural laughter is a beautiful and pleasant expression. Laughing is a distinctly human trait. The laugh can be a measurement of one’s health. The blood circulation gets better with a good laugh. Laughter promotes better functioning heart and digestive organs and helps to improve the immune system. To live a long and healthy life, laughing heartily at least once a day is imperative. Laughter is a vital part of a pleasant life, enjoyed with youth and vigor!