We left off in Part 2 with instructors branching out to teach around the U.S., including Maryland. Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ; Amherst, MA; Honesdale, PA; and in Westchester and Long Island, NY.
By the 1990s Ohashi had witnessed many changes, especially in Japanese/American relations. When he first came to the US, very few Americans ate sushi. By the 90s, there were hundreds of noodle shops and sushi bars in New York City alone. Japanese management techniques had been incorporated into the curriculum of business schools and the yen was at an all-time high.
Ohashi saw an interesting phenomenon that he called “international cultural catchball.” His view was when an element of a culture travels to a different environment, it is ingested and changed. Ohashi saw that happening with shiatsu. “Once quantity develops, quality changes,” Ohashi says. “Sometimes the more popular something becomes, the less value is placed upon it.”
It was clear that the decision to differentiate his technique from traditional shiatsu was a correct one. More and more, the supportive relationship of the giver and receiver, rather than the technical knowledge, became an important component of Ohashiatsu®. “My technique and philosophy is not only for American and Japanese – it is for everybody. It is universal and that’s the reason people from many countries come here to study. They need it and enjoy it. It has become a part of the globalization phenomenon.”
Ohashi’s dream of teaching the “Ohashiatsu…Touch for peace” philosophy to the world was beginning. In 1990, the Institute was contacted by the Psycho-Political Peace Institute (PPPI) to help in its project to introduce psychotherapeutic and holistic modalities to the citizens of the newly disbanded Soviet Union. That year the Institute helped sponsor 12 Russian doctors and therapists who were coming to New York for a month. During that time, they studied Ohashi’s Oriental Diagnosis and Ohashiatsu Beginning I. They were so impressed that they invited Ohashi to come to Russia. A year later, Ohashi taught these two courses to 100 students in Russia.
Five years later, the Ohashi Institute again partnered with PPPI. This time to assist the village of Bakuriani in the Republic of Georgia, which had been a world renowned ski resort where the USSR Olympic teams trained. The breakup of the USSR left Bakuriani a desolate village with polluted drinking water, no heat, and electricity available only after 11:30PM. There was only one doctor in town – one who had trained with Ohashi in the US. The Institute sponsored Vasil Jioev, who worked as a massage therapist at a hospital. Vasil completed the Ohashiatsu curriculum in one year and, when he returned to Georgia, donated one week per month working in the refurbished Bakuriani Hospital.
“Ohashiatsu is something amazing. With massage therapy, it’s just bones,
muscles and tendons and maybe a person somewhere in there.
Ohashiatsu is about the human being. Not just the physical,
but the psychologicaland the emotional –
it’s so deep – it’s about the universe. Now I can sense that deep place
inside the person and hope that I can touch it as well.”
~ Vasil Gioev.
In 1992, Ohashi returned to Japan to teach, and during one weekend more than 80 people came from all over Japan to hear him. Understanding human nature, Ohashi instinctively knew that when people study something that is already part of their own culture, they tend to take it for granted. So, Ohashi taught the Japanese students in English through a translator! The students said that by hearing a Japanese subject taught in English, they discovered a different angle to what they already knew and enjoyed a different dimension of comprehension. Once again, Ohashi fulfilled his mission – he added another level of understanding to human nature through his modality of touch communication.
As the Ohashiatsu program continued to grow worldwide, the Institute increased its focus on refining the curriculum and standardizing the training so that the course material could be taught the same way around the world. In this effort, the many senior instructors who had trained at the Institute or in Europe contributed to this process.
During the 1990s, Ohashi began to refine his published work by writing a new book that captured the true nature of Ohashiastu. While most other books and instructional videos focused on the benefit of the receiver, how to deal with the receiver’s problems, they hardly said a word about the giver’s well-being, the giver’s consciousness, the giver’s reward. When published, “Beyond Shiatsu: Ohashi’s Bodywork Method” was the only book that focused on maintaining and improving the giver’s movement, posture and well-being.
“Priority must go to the practitioner,” Ohashi states emphatically.
“When you give Ohashiatsu, you are regenerated and energized
because of the way your body moves,
because you are enhancing your vital Ki (life force energy),
and because you are meditating while you are working.
This book and Ohashiatsu will help the giver preserve his or her body
so that he or she can continue this wonderful work for many, many years.”
Teach a Man to Fish
Ohashi believes that people need to take responsibility for themselves. Clients need to take responsibility for improving their health, students for their own learning, and instructors for their continued learning and financial well-being. Ohashi wanted instructors to be self-sufficient rather than rely on the Institute for their livelihood. Thus, in 1995, the Institute established an outreach program allowing instructors to teach anywhere they liked, without having to set up an entire school. Result: the Institute could access different niche and geographical markets and more and more people could be introduced to the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of Ohashiatsu.
The New Millennium
With greater and great technological communications advances, Ohashi is concerned about human well-being. “The more technology advances, the more people are becoming isolated. You don’t have to contact another human being to get what you need to survive – you can do everything over the Internet. But people need people. We need human interaction, human touch. The more technology, the more touch we need. I call this “High Tech/High Touch.”
Society has now embraced “alternative” knowledge and modalities. We continually hear about a “new” therapy, but, of course, we know that these “new” therapies are what philosophers, monks, healers and indigenous peoples around the world have known for centuries.
Ohashi developed a series of videos for students. With the advent of the DVD, Ohashi created a new series that addresses the public at large. A new e-book will be published soon. He continues to travel around the world teaching his courses and new instructors. To date, Ohashi and his instructors have taught in the US, Canada, Italy, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Bali, Belgium, Costa Rica, Israel, Burkina Faso, French Guinea, Russia, and the Netherlands. In 2015, Ohashi will introduce his modality to students in Melbourne, Australia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Zagreb, Croatia.
As more and more people look to alternative modalities for their health and well-being, the Ohashi Institute and the Ohashi Method®/Ohashiatsu® are ready to provide the world with more instructors to teach people to help themselves. And Ohashi’s techniques, method and teaching will continue to emphasize communication and synergism between two people, on the self-development of the giver, as well as the receiver, and on harmony for both.