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History of Japanese Pediatric Acupuncture

The History of Shōnishin (Pediatric Acupuncture)

Shōnishin is the acupuncture treatment of common symptoms of infants and children such as colic, digestive disorders, general promotion of health etc.  It was developed and popularized in Osaka from the Edo to the Meiji period.

At present Shōnishin is widely practiced by acupuncturists throughout Japan.  From the Meiji period till World War II, in Osaka, there were many acupuncture clinics which treated more than 100 patients a day.

In historical Chinese acupuncture-moxibustion texts the treatment of childrens disease is mentioned, but the treatment points given for various symptoms do not differ from those for adult and female disease.  This is not the Shōnishin which we are discussing here.

There was widely reported information by FUJII Shūji but these reports were not true.  From the Edo through the Meiji period a few famous families such as FUJII, ICHIKAWA (ICHIKAWA Acupuncture) OKAJIMA (Rabbit Acupuncture), monopolized Shōnishin.  It has been commonly practiced since the Taishō era.  It is touching needling.  The stimulation is extremely light.

Reports concerning Shōnishin have sporadically appeared since the 1760s.  Nakanomura Shōnishin is described in Sesshu Hirano Ōezu (ݽʿ糨ޡ), 1763.  In Shinkyu-soku by SUGANUMA Shukei (蝹§), 1767, in the chapter of pediatrics, an article on colic (Ѽ) says that, Colic and small masses in the lumber regions of the abdomen (ʼ) are treated by blood-bleeding from BL-18, BL-17, BL-20, BL-21, GV-12 and EX-B7.  This treatment inevitably works.  There is the most experienced doctor practicing this method in Sesshū Nakanomura.  It is commonly called NAKANOs one needle method.  (original written in Chinese)

Sesshū Nakano Acupuncture is the acupuncture by the Nakano family.  There is a station named Harinakano Station on the South Osaka Line of the Kinki Nippon Railway (Kintetsu) and is still part of the local legend.


 Sesshū Hirano Ōezu, 1763



FUJII and SUGIHARAs family crest, Capa mark
Naniwa-ika-meikan (Medical directory of Naniwa), 1845
The collection of Harikyu Museum

In the middle of 1800s, in what is now present day Osaka, Shōnishin and Rabbit Acupuncture appeared in the medical directory Ika-meikan(Ȱ̾ա) and a ranking list of doctors.  This showed that Shōnishin presumably flourished in Osaka city even at that time.

With the coming of the Meiji era statements like the following were found:
"People in the Osaka region have the good habit of always using acupuncture for pediatric diseases" in Shinjutsu-chiryō-taii (諾Ѽա) by Shifuku-dō-shinryo-jo acupuncture clinic (ʡƲŽ), 1894, and "It is not unreasonable to say that all indigenous families in Osaka rely on acupuncture for infants and children" in Shōni-yōiku-no-kokoroe, enlarged and revised edition 2 by NAGAHAMA Sōkitsu (Ⱦܰοǡ), Osaka, 1906.  These statements reveal that Shōnishin had become a part of Osaka childcare folkways and was popular.




Rabbit Acupuncture
Osaka-ishi-banzuke (Ranking list of doctors of Osaka), 1855
The collection of Harikyu Museum


The spread of Shōnishin was enhanced in 1930 when FUJII Shūji obtained a Ph.D. degree in medicine for his research on pediatric acupuncture Shōnishin-no-kenkyū ʡȾ瘝θɡ.  In 1926 YAMAMOTO Shingo, Director of Kansai School of Acupuncture and Moxibustion published Shōnishin-no-shiyō-oyobi-ōyōten ʡȾ瘝λѵڱɡ on the use and applicable points of Shōnishin.

After World War II, Shōnishin has been promoted through reports in The Japan Acupuncture Moxibustion Society and publication of books by YONEYAMA Hirohisa, MORI Hidetaro and TANIOKA Kentoku.  In 2007, The Japanese Society of Pediatric Acupuncture was established.



Dr. FUJII Shūji
The collection of Harikyu Museum

Harikyu Museum
Morinomiya College of Medical Arts and Sciences

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The Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (JSAM) 3-44-14, Minami-otsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 170-0005, Japan tel: +81-3-3985-6188, fax: +81-3-3985-6135