Shiatsu (指圧 Japanese from shi, meaning finger, and atsu, meaning pressure) is a traditional Japanese hands-on therapy based on anatomical and physiological theory and is regulated as a licensed medical therapy with the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Japan. Shiatsu is an evolving form. Various styles (called Derivative Shiatsu) incorporate (to differing degrees) aspects of Japanese massage traditions, Chinese Medicine practice, and "Western" anatomy and physiology.
Like acupuncture, shiatsu is based on the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine, where illness is thought to result from imbalances in the natural flow of energy, or qi (pronounced "chee") through the body.
Shiatsu therapists use finger and palm pressure to energetic pathways, called meridians to improve the flow of qi. The pressure feels more localized, because unlike other types of massage, the finger pads are used to apply pressure for most of the treatment instead of the entire palm. Certain pressure points may feel tender, which some people describe it as "good pain."