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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shiatsu Arrives in the City of Stress

The opening day of Moscow's first shiatsu clinic did not get off to an auspicious start. The clinic's president, Dr. Katsuhiko Ikeuchi, had arrived from Japan the evening before and was showing signs of food poisoning: dizziness, nausea and weakness. Fortunately for him, Dr. Shinithi Irie was there. He took the clinic president in hand and used shiatsu massage to relieve the pain and restore Ikeuchi's strength.

"Practically everyone in Japan knows how to relieve nausea and headache or toothache," explained Irie, a shiatsu specialist who opened a Moscow affiliate of Japan's Seiyokan Institute in June. "Lessons are broadcast on television and printed in mass publications. Parents pass these practices on to their children. But everyone understands that the cause must be treated, and that calls for a specialist."

Shiatsu massage, in which finger pressure is applied to the areas of the body used in acupuncture, provides relief from severe pain, tiredness, stress and sleeplessness. Other ailments -- such as neuralgia, hemorrhoids, stomach and kidney complaints -- are also often treated with shiatsu. Irie's clinic even offers treatment to help patients lose weight.

In Japan, "the most advanced physicians do not deny the curative effects of this ancient practice," Irie said. "Even cancer patients have a shiatsu regimen as an effective supplementary treatment. When the usual, classical massage is not indicated, shiatsu aids in slowing the pernicious processes. This is explained by shiatsu's being based not only on affecting specific points in the body, but also in the transfer of healing energy to the patient."

It is no accident that the Seiyokan Institute chose Irie to open its Moscow clinic.

Ikeuchi, the president of the Seiyokan Institute and regarded as the world's best shiatsu specialist, considers Irie his best pupil. In Japan, where Irie worked in a Seiyokan clinic for 10 years, his patients included the head of Honda, Japan's women's golf champion, sumo wrestlers, politicians, actors and millionaires. When fellow countrymen come for an appointment with Irie, they respectfully address him as sensei, which means "teacher" or "master."

In Moscow, Irie rents a one-room apartment in the center, where he spends little time, having too much work. He left his mother, a younger brother and a girlfriend behind in Japan.

In addition to treating patients, Irie is also teaching Russian medical students, the most talented of them for free. The plan is that they will eventually work with Irie in the clinic, as the number of patients is growing daily. When the clinic first opened, most of the patients were Japanese businesspeople living in Moscow. Now, however, Russians are also seeking treatment in the clinic.

In his classes, Irie is using the textbook of Dr. Namikoshi, a shiatsu specialist best known for treating Marilyn Monroe during her honeymoon in Tokyo with Joe DiMaggio. When the star was struck with stomach pains, modern doctors were unable to help; only Namikoshi was able to restore Monroe's health.

Irie, whose treatments cost $30 for a half-hour session and $50 for an hour, sees patients in his clinic on Bolshoi Cherkassky Pereulok as well as in the Mezhdunarodnaya Hotel. The clinic is set to grow; its organizers plan to bring reflex therapists and chiropractors to the Russian capital in the near future.

The clinic is located in the building of the Mosta Dental Clinic at 15 Bolshoi Cherkassky Pereulok. Tel. 927-0603 or 924-0268. Irie also sees patients in the Mezhdunarodnaya Hotel, 12 Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya, office 725. Tel. 253-2725. The secretary can provide information in Russian, English and Japanese.