My acupuncture teacher, Ms. Kiiko Matsumoto, took an international group of acupuncturists to Japan in December 2013 to study with some noted practitioners there. I was privileged to be part of this wonderful group.
Kiiko Matsumoto style acupuncture is one of the more unique practices I have come across. It is founded on the work of Master Nagano, one of Kiiko’s important teachers during her time in Japan. She has continued to grow and evolve in the practice and now has her own unique style of acupuncture. I am completely enamored of it, finding it to be superiorly effective for a great many patients I see in my clinic.
I could not pass up this opportunity to travel to Japan. I am a huge fan of Kiiko, and this was a chance to study with teachers she thinks are great. So on the first day of December, I packed my bags and headed to Osaka for five days of study and camaraderie with my colleagues from around the world.
The teaching was amazing. Tsuyoshi Shimamura, also a student of Master Nagano, spent three days going into great depth with just a few different treatments. We watched him treat all kinds of conditions with the same basic treatments over and over again. It was a very profound demonstration of acupuncture’s ability to get to the root the matter. Tsuyoshi sensei has a very refined hand with needling, and seeing the care and focus with which he approaches his craft was most inspiring. I was also witness to incredible collaboration between Tsuyoshi sensei, Kiiko sensei, and our translator, Tak sensei in hunting down the very best treatment for whoever was on the table. I finished those few days with a deep desire to rededicate to the practice of medicine and be a better clinician.
We also had the privilege of spending a day with Master Matsumoto (not Kiiko), who brings some 50 years of experience and a wealth of scientific knowledge. Master Matsumoto has a precise anatomical approach to acupuncture, considering carefully the western anatomy. He showed us a style of local needling (needling where it hurts) that was elegant and sophisticated. And best of all, not to painful! Part of the reason a lot of acupuncturists move away from local needling is it can be hard on patients. Master Matsumoto has such great anatomical knowledge, clear intention, and careful needling that discomfort is kept to a minimum. He really inspired me refine my needling technique, and as a result, local needling is back in my repertoire!
We also visited the acupuncture museum in Osaka, which houses a good collection of old texts, tools, and scrolls related to acupuncture and moxibustion. Thinking about the contribution of my acupuncture forebears always makes be proud to be a part of this venerable tradition, and I am grateful for their hard work and contributions to the development of the art.
After my studies in Osaka, I had the great joy of doing a bit of travel. I visited Kyoto, Uji, and Tokyo, and had an absolutely marvelous time! Japan is a wonderful country. I made some great new friends, studied with some awesome teachers, and came back smarter and inspired. I am so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity!