When we say Japanese nuru massage, the connoisseurs will most likely know what we’re talking about. But very few people can really elaborate on the background from which this procedure originated. Hopefully, this article will do its part in elucidating the wonderful history of Japanese massaging art, whose roots stretch deep into the centuries. We’ll take a look at

  • The origins of Japanese art in China
  • The “an mo” therapy and its transformation into “an mo”
  • How shiatsu became popular
  • The birth of nuru

The well-known Japanse nuru massage is just a fresh outgrowth

While perhaps the most popular nowadays, nuru is a relatively recent phenomenon with origins in the post-WW2 red light districts of Tokyo. But the history of Japanese massages is far richer than that, and boast one of the oldest traditions in the world, drawing from an even older tradition of Chinese medicine and therapy. Apparently, the first techniques were brought to Japan from China by Buddhist monks in the 8th century AD. These techniques were known then – and are still practiced to this day – as the “anmo” and “tuina”. The “tuina” therapy is still practiced in China to this day – and keeps yielding tangible results.The Japanese, however, seemed to be more interested in the “anmo” therapy and made it the basis of their own art.

From the “an mo” to the “an ma” – the Japanese made it their own

The Chinese “anmo” therapy really took hold in Japan. Multiple tweaks and modifications were gradually made to it, eventually distinguishing it from the Chinese original. Thus the “an ma” was born. As opposed to its Chinese original, this version did not use any oils and ointments and could be performed even over light clothing. The strokes are usually directed away from the heart.

The “an ma” lasted for centuries after

The “an ma” was subjected to further modifications throughout the ages and became more diverse as different schools added different moves and augmented the techniques by themselves. Another Chinese addition, that is acupuncture, has also made its entry into the practice.

There were even sects who trained blind people only in the art of “an ma”, and, at certain times, sighted people were evenbanned from participating in it.

Enter the Shiatsu – when the “an ma” seemed to run its course

As time passed, the “an ma” massage became more and more formalised, turning into more of a relaxing ritual than a genuine healing therapy.Thus a need for a new type of massage arose. In the first half of the 20th century, the Shiatsu was created as a result. This massage took its impulses partly from the traditional “an ma” and partly from modern western therapies, such as the Swedish massage. The shiatsu is a very potent massage, useful for a wide range of purposes, and with its own philosophy and techniques different from the original “an ma”. That is not to say that “an ma” is without its merits – on the contrary. Studies show that it can be beneficial for example in helping patients after a cancer treatment.

Nuru and the prostitution ban

The birth of the contemporary nuru can be credited to the prostitution ban enacted in Japan in the 1950s. Forbidden from providing direct sexual acts, the former “ladies of the night” began their practice as masseuses, and the former brothels turned into massage salons where the customers could expect a body-to-body “happy ending” rubdown. The-so called “soaplands” quickly gained popularity, and the techniques practiced within became more refined and formalised. Today’s nuru is the product of this process, with the internet age eventually catapulting it to worldwide phenomenon. Today, you can find salons offering nuru all over the world!

So, this is the Japanese massaging art in a nutshell. From its humble beginnings as a copy of Chinese medicine to a full-fledged art in itself, the Japanese continue to captivate the rest of the world with the innovative techniques and the constant boundary pushing!

What do you think made nuru so popular worldwide? Is it the erotic aspect, or is there more to it in your opinion? Would you try it yourself or did you already? What was your experience like or what would you expect from it? And what about the other Japanese arts? Leave a comment below!