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Reference materials 

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A few links to other sites for more/other information:

  1. http://www.onlinehealthresources.com/Medicine/

  2. http://www.frety.com/     "Frety.net - a web directory with homepage thumbnails"

  3. http://www.acupuncture.com/

  4. http://www.alternative-therapies.com/

  5. http://www.healthy.net/

  6. http://www.spineuniverse.com/

  7. http://www.quackwatch.org/ 

  8. http://www.openoffice.org/ an alternative to MS Office

  9. http://japan.oymap.com/      Japan at OyMap.com - a world directory,  search the world by countries


More will be coming ...

(I should be working more on this, but time ...)

To acupuncture page                                                            see pictures 

                            Page 1 Contents:

Acupuncture  Page Translation / etc. Page
  Welcome [1] Information - Japan [1]
SARS and Moxibustion [1] Translator as "bookfinder"   [1]
"Natural" and wildlife protection [1] Common places are NOT common! [1]
Low back pain, 1 point advice [1] Client Obligation   [1]
"Hara" - the power source [1]   [1]
Relaxation [1] Complementary and alternative therapies for cancer – newspaper article down
Breathing    Foreign studies in Japan  - my personal  opinion  
Pierces   My way to Japan - my life story (first article below)  
Acupuncture efficacy, "true" or "authentic" acupuncture  "Scientifically" proven effectiveness of acupuncture for low back pain. [2]
"The Quality Control Crisis in China and Our Profession"
An Open Letter from Ted Kaptchuk 
With all due deference, but  ...  [2]

Page: [1]    [2]    [3]    [4]    [5]


It should have been just a trip around the world ...


                            My way to Japan


I was born at the water front - in the port town Kiel. This is probably also the reason why I am still living near the water, only not any longer in Germany, but in an small Japanese town called "Hayama". It is located about an hour train ride from Tokyo at the pacific coast. What fate had driven me on to the coast of this Far Eastern Island? Well, this is both a long and a short story.  

(the "long" story is available as an ebook in German: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/432442 )


As it is often the case with young children, the younger sibling (me) likes to imitate his elder brother (same with girls too of course). That is why I had to start practicing Judo shortly after my brother did. Two years later the same thing happened with Aikido. Yet here it showed, that Aikido "suited my nature" much better than Judo did. So, after a short while of practicing both I gave up on Judo and concentrated entirely on Aikido. And, if I may say so myself, made rather good progress with my studies. In the meantime I also had a short encounter with Kendo, but this too did not really suit my nature. With Karate I had that impression already from watching it.

Several years later, by that time I had advanced to the position of an "Aikido trainer" teaching a little group, one of the students introduced me to "Tai Chi". First he just demonstrated the exercises, but later I asked him to teach me. He always said, that he is not really somebody capable of teaching Tai Chi, but I liked what he had to teach and was fascinated by its movements. I definitely had the feeling, that "this is for me". This kind of feeling telling you that certain things, here in particular certain sports are just right, while others are not attractive all. And this has nothing to do with one thing being superior to others. This being particularly attracted by certain things finally led to a fateful event, w hich in turn led me 5 years later to Japan.

At the age of 17 I watched a documentary report on martial arts on TV. It delt with about everything in the field: Judo, Karate, Aikido, Kendo , Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu ... and finally also Japanese archery, called Kyudo. For this particular form or archery the archers use long, slender bows made of bamboo and shoot on a target at a distance of about 30 m. Usually the archers stand on the wooden floor of the "Dojo" (practice hall) and shoot across a lawn under the open sky at the target.

In the said TV documentary the bow master stood, however, on a lawn and was filmed from the front. The film showed the master as he stood there, pulled the bow and eventually let the arrow fly. It did not show, however, the target. That means, the people watching that TV program did not know, whether the arrow had hit the target or not. And the entire video clip took about 2 minutes. 

But that did not matter. The program already had its effect!

These 2 minutes had fired a sort of spark in my head. As if thunderstruck I had the impression, that THIS is something I really want/have to do.

After that I tried to find out, whether there were any Dojos near by and found at that time two. One was located in Hamburg, an hour car ride from where I lived, and the other was in Paris. Yet, in both Dojos a European person was the "master".  Since I was still young and an idealist, I wanted to learn, naturally, from a "real" master and not some European student of such a real master. This permitted only one conclusion: I HAVE to go to Japan!

Five years later, after graduation from senior high school, service as a conscientous objector and some time working as an assistant laborer in the warehouse of a company selling construction materials, I gave away or sold most of my belongings, packed a rucksack, converted the amount of about 10.000 German mark, that were the result of 5 years of saving everything, selling my belongings and my work in that warehouse, into travelers cheques and left - naturally against the wishes of my parents - with a one-way ticket for the Transsibirean Railway  for Japan. That trip, starting with a hitch-hike to Berlin, then train to Moskow and from the Transsibirean Railway to Wladivostok and from there with a ship to Yokohama took about 2 weeks. Doubts about my decision and the feasibility of my plans did not once occur to  me during the entire period of 5 years from that fateful TV documentary (at the age of 17) until my actual departure (at the age of 22)!


Originally I had planned to travel to Japan in order to practice Japanese archery there for about half a year. After that I wanted to travel a little through southeast Asia, buy me a sailing boat to sail via Australia to San Franscisco to meet a friend from Germany about 1 year after my departure from Germany. And then go back home. So far the theory.  

Once I had arrived in Japan I soon learned, that it is not so easy to find a Dojo at all. In particular not one that matches the ideal I had derived from books and wishful notions. Somebody introduced me to two other Germans, who had been living in Japan at the time and were so kind to interpret for me. With their help I went and met the Buddhist priest "Koun Suhara" of the "Enkaku" temple in Kita Kamakura to ask his advice and guidance. This priest has build a Kyudo Dojo in a little shrine near the entrance of the aforementioned temple. And he personally knew the legendary Eugen Herrigel.

His advice to me was a very clear statement: Unless you are able to communicate in Japanese none of the gray-haired masters are likely to be willing/able to teach you anything, since you cannot expect them to learn English or German just for your sake. So, first spent 1-2 years studying Japanese. You may return, when you are able to communicate in Japanese.

Fascinated and motivated by priest Suhara I decided to change my plans: change my tourist visum into a student visum and stay - duration indeterminate.

Even though the change in my visa status was not straightforward and had kept me instead of the planned 3 weeks 3 months in Hongkong, I really enjoyed the following two years. I spent several times a week with Kyudo practices, albeit not in the above mentioned temple, a weekly tea ceremony practice and daily practice of Tai Chi on a mountain top overlooking the Sagami Bay ...

Naturally, during this time I also met a number of Japanese people. Some good friends I still have contact with today - and of course my wife. These relationships to Japanese greatly contributed to my Japanese studies - with certain obstacles! 

Namely, problems arise, when you as a foreigner assume, that Japanese people speak "proper" Japanese = standard Japanese. From my male friends and aquaintances I adopted a rather undeirably vocabulary that you should use only, if at all, if you are REALLYwith my wife; we were very young then ... familiar with the language and customs of the country. From my wife and other female language students I had at the time I learned "woman's language". At that time I did not yet know, that there are woman's and men's languages in Japan. And if you as a man use woman's language, you run the chance to make a bad impression. 


Since I left Germany after I graduated from senior high school and completing my social services, but without having attended a university or vocational training, I had to start think about how I would like to earn my living in the future. 

Here my interest in oriental philoshopy and culture came into play when I told myself, that an education in acupressure would permit me to combine my private and professional ambitions. Given the fact, that there are always ill people everywhere worldwide would provide me a stable basis of livelihood - so I thought. 

Well, I was young and inexperienced. In the meantime I learned that this is not THAT easy. But however that may be, considering a further expansion of my future professional possibilities I changed my original plans and went to a vocational school where I studied in addition to the acupressure also acupuncture, moxibustion and oriental massage. The 3-year education is completed by passing a state examination, which allows the holder of the relevant certificate to open his/her own "clinic" (practice).

at Tamagawa hospitalI preferred, however, to spend some time (actually that was a period of 4 years) in a general hospital with a section called at that time "research institute of oriental medicine" (that has been closed in the meantime) to gather practical clinical experience.

To do so, I had to get every day at 7 in the morning on a (changing lines included = 3 trains) train to Tokyo and came back between 9 or 10 in the evening. And this six days a week. This necessarily brought with it, that the time for Kyodo practices, tea ceremonies etc. was excluded from my schedule.

But in turn I had in the hospital plenty of chances to learn things, that I would not have been able to learn elsewhere. Being a German acupuncturist working in a Japanese hospital, not just visiting for an afternoon orso, also made me a rather "exotic" figure. This had a number of advantages, since I was "permitted" to talk to of learn from physicians belonging "enemy factions" - doctors in a hospital associate themselves with colleages who graduated from the same university etc. and thereby form "factions" that sometimes conduct their own silent "wars / power struggles". This gave me chances my Japanese acupuncture colleages did not have and sometimes I feel guilty for have used that chance to abundantly.

After my  time in the hospital I spent some time doing only freelance translation and home visits, but finally in 1995 opened my own VERY little clinic here in Hayama. And that is what I am still doing today: acupuncture what I dare to call my real "calling" (vocation), but which unfortunately does not bring any money and freelance translation to earn the living for our family of six. Although I try to keep a low profile, today I am still sort of standing out in the Japanese acupuncture community just because I am German acupuncturist who runs his own clinic. As to the best of my knowledge (I plan to investigate this) there are only VERY few clinics that are run by WESTERN foreigners. When a Chinese or Korean person, even though being a foreigner too, practices acupuncture here, he/she does not really stand out that much. a picture of my family taken on the first shrine visit in 2012


That is how it came to pass that the planned trip around the world developed into a permanent stay in Japan. I am married to a Japanese and our silver wedding is already 2-3 years ago. We do have four by now rather big children (I think my daughter is the only one who has not yet outgrown me). 

The picture to the right is my family during the first shrine visit in 2012.


In particular regarding my profession as an acupuncturist

Friendly greetings from the country of the rising sun.

Thomas Blasejewicz





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The famous "common place" is NOT common 

"Translation is not about words - translation is about what the words are about." 

    Throughout modern history a lot of things have been termed "common place" and been referred to uncountable times. Common place means that something is common, natural and understood by everybody. Yet, by definition that has to be restricted to specific people, cultures and times. Given this common place background, it might be worthwhile to think a little about the translator's job. S/he has to transfer material, usually present in written form, from one language to another. Doing so in some specialized area with heavy use of technical terms can be a rather clear-cut endeavor, precisely because of the technical terms. Mostly they define in very succinct ways what there is to be said among specialists who know what they are talking about. Admittedly, this form of straight communication may at times be endangered the very nature of the "specialists", who are so good at what they are doing / researching that their minds sometimes jump ahead of their writings, leaving the translator (and reader) wondering how to fill in the gaps. The real problems start, when you are talking about something considered very simple, namely common place concepts. So, if I as a German in Germany for example call to my family "let's sit down to dinner", it would be natural, or common place, to think of people sitting on chairs around a table. Yet, that may not be true for regions outside Europe and America. Here in Japan, if I use the same words to ask my family to sit down, that would mean sitting with legs tugged under on the floor. The same person uses the same words and they still mean different things. Please observe that "common place" refers to a place, where people share "common ground". Elsewhere in the world people may sit down to dinner, but do neither really sit on the floor or chairs nor use a table. This is the time when the "common sense" and finesse of the translator kicks in. S/he has to decide where the source material originated from, where it is headed and what it is being used for. Often the translator does not have all this information. Also, if a person/translator has a working knowledge of the target language, but does not live or has been living in the region where the particular language is spoken, s/he may not be completely aware of all the aspects of sometimes verbally not expressed common places.


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1.     Thomas' Acupuncture Clinic Online
Western, "scientific" medicine has achieved magnificent results and saves countless lives. Emergencies create highly dramatic situations that even gave rise to a famous TV series.
Yet, the wonders of science and technology do not provide the answers for everything.
Oriental medicine, here I speak in particular for acupuncture, is a traditional form of "alternative" therapy. Speaking in technical terms I would like to explain the contributions of acupuncture to the healing process as a reprogramming of a distorted body program, through the skin as an interface.
As an acupuncturist I do not heal or cure anything. If my patients get well, this is because their bodies healed themselves - I just initialized the process with the needles.

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About "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome" (SARS)

Response to a mailing list message and a "stupid suggestion".

> Tom Buckley Consultant Intensivist
> Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care
> Prince of Wales Hospital Shatin, Hong Kong

> Unresponsive to various combinations of cefotaxime, chlarithromycin,
> levofloxacin, doxyclycline and Tamiflu. All microbiology is NEGATIVE
> (after one week).

> Physicians have started patients on ribovarin and steroids.

This note said, most patients are "unresponsive to (antibiotics)" (with an apparent impairment of the immune system).
If there are problems with eliminating the pathogen and the body appears to be running low on immunologic reserves, a long shot trying to stimulate the patients immune response, triggering the body to fight back on its own, might be a conceivable treatment. 

Moxibustion certainly may not seem to have its place in an ICU environment - 
but this treatment modality has been used in similar situations (infections) for millennia. Addmittedly not always successfully. 
But since the application of moxibustion is very unlikely to pose any danger to the medical staff or the patient - both medical staff and patients can probably only profit from a trial.

Since I have not tried this myself in an emergency like this, I prefer not to make any statements or predictions, but scientific evidence showing the improvement of immune function after moxibustion treatment is abundant and convincing.

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3.    Worried about the booming quest for "natural"!

I am pasting here a press release from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). Please think about what you are doing, the next time to go into a shop and buy "natural" products.

Press Releases / Commerical use of wildlife

Bear bile business

28 Oct 2002

New report identifies China's bear bile farms as playing a key role in the illegal global bear trade 

A new report released today by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) reveals how existing international laws protecting endangered species are failing to control an illegal multi-million dollar international trade in bear parts that is a threat to the very survival of all bear species. Bear products are in great demand by some users of traditional Chinese medicine, who regard them as a cure-all. 

The report, 'The Bear Bile Business', is based on a three year investigation of hundreds of shops and companies in conjunction with WSPA member societies in eight countries (USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan).

Investigators have discovered bear products openly on sale in over 70% of places surveyed in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the USA, closely followed by Canada (68%), Indonesia (62%), Australia (49%) and Taiwan (30%). Other countries implicated in the illegal trade of bear products include the Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, India, Pakistan and Vietnam. 

China's notorious bear bile farms are at the very heart of this illegal trade. Over 7,000 bears are kept alive on more than 200 farms in China, where they are 'milked? for their bile from open wounds. This agonising process causes severe distress, with some bears resorting to chewing their paws to cope with the pain. These animals endure appalling levels of cruelty and neglect and are kept in tiny metal cages where they are often unable to stand straight. 

The farms are helping to accelerate the demise of bears in the wild, as more are sought to replace those slowly dying on the farms where they may only survive to the age of ten, a third of the life expectancy of a wild bear. In Japan alone, WSPA estimates that at least 200 kg of bear bile is consumed annually; this could represent several thousand dead wild bears. Trade in bear bile products is highly profitable, with bear bile costing around $15 - $20 per gram on the international market (in contrast to the average of $0.24 per gram it is sold for by bear bile farms in China). The highest price found was in Japan, where some bear bile was being sold for over $252 per gram. Even using conservative estimates, the annual production of bear bile in China is worth in excess of $100 million (at average international prices). 

This trade contravenes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and a WSPA delegation will be lobbying CITES to take urgent action at an international meeting being held in Santiago, Chile, from 3rd to 15th November 2002. WSPA's delegation will be calling for greater protection for all bear species with more effective and stricter controls on the international trade.

China is playing a leading role in fuelling the market for bear products. Today, it is estimated that 7,000 kg of bear bile is produced in China each year, of which only around 4,000 kg are actually consumed in the country itself. In recent years, there has been a dramatic growth in the production of bear bile products, which has spawned a market for a whole new range of items, such as shampoo and wine, far removed from the formulations of traditional Chinese medicine. 

Victor Watkins, Director of WSPA's Libearty campaign, said, "Our findings show how bears are the victim of a blatant illegal trade that has put a price on the head of every living bear. China's bear bile farms are a root cause of this problem and urgent action needs to be taken to stop the trade and close down these farms, which have nothing to do with tradition or culture and everything to do with profit and loss.? 


The full report with pictures can be found on the following pages:

Bear Farming / Inside China's Torture Chambers


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4.        1-Point Advice
Low Back Pain

bulletAlmost everybody will suffer once in his/her life time from low back pain.
bulletThe only bones supporting the center of your body are the vertebrae.
bulletThus, support of the "low back" is provided mainly by muscles around your waist.
bulletUse your body to train those muscles.
bulletThe simplest way is walking.
bulletUse the stairs instead of escalators and walk to the station instead of taking the bus.
bulletThe there is one acupoint known to tune your muscles.
bulletThe "Yang Mount Spring" (G34) laterally below the knee.
bulletRegularly stimulate this point - like regular tooth brushing, using your fingers or objects with rounded head.
bulletMore information will come up in the scheduled frequent updates of this page.


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5.        Heal yourself out of your "Hara"
The Japanese word "hara" stands for a region about 3 cm below the navel and about 2 cm below the skin, which appears already in the Chinese classics under the name Dan Tian ("cinnabar" or "red" field). I believe it would not be an exaggeration to say the entire oriental culture is based on the use of this vital center within your body. In the martial arts is it common place, that adepts have to exert force (power) out of the depth of their belly. Yet, this applies not only to such violent movements as in the martial arts. Tea ceremony, flower arrangement, calligraphy, classic dance (in Japan for example "Noh") have to be performed by breathing correctly down into the hara to induce a flow the energy from the belly.
Correct breathing is in oriental medicine not only for therapeutic purposes essential, but also for the maintenance of general health. Breathing should be slow (Western standard textbooks of physiology give the normal respiratory rate as 15-16 breathing cycles per minute. However, this is too fast (and inefficient) to maintain a stable and composed state of mind and sound physical health.) and done from the "hara" to induce the flow of the vital energies "Qi" and "Blood" flow through your body.
Basically, this flow of energy is directed during your activities from the body center (hara) to the periphery, from where it radiates outward, particularly through the hands and fingers. Nowadays it is even possible to measure this phenomenon and explain it "scientifically".
When you are in a receptive state of mind, e.g., feeling or sensing something, these energies usually enter your body from its interface with the external world (eyes, ears, nose, skin, hands, etc.) to sink into your hara. According to modern, scientific thought these impulses travel to the brain for processing, but this concept is not relevant in the eastern interpretation.
Now, this wisdom can be used to "recharge your batteries" in times of severe stress or marked fatigue, when both body and mind need a break' to deal with situation at hand, which is recuperation and healing yourself. You can facilitate this healing process by creating an 'energy (short) circuit'.
Try the following exercise, if possible while lying:


Lie on your back


Relax your hands (shake them loose)


Put the center of your hands over an area 3 cm below the navel


Breath slowly and let air/energy flowing into that area


Avoid moving the shoulders during this breathing


Imagine that with each breath "Qi" energy is flowing from your hara through the arms/hands and back into the belly


The circuit ensures that you take in new energy with each breath, but do not discharge much, thus recharging yourself

One acupoint located about 3 cm below the navel is called "Sea of Qi". Use this idea and image, you have an ocean in your lower abdomen. Inhaling would never cause overflowing of this ocean and exhaling can provide an unlimited flow of energy. This ocean is so big, you don't have to worry about any details. And as with the waves of the ocean, there is a constant, rhythmical, yet powerful coming and going.

Try to use this "Sea of Qi" and "flow of energy" as the driving energy source of your activities.

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6.        Information is passed along in many ways

Translation and printed matter are far from being obsolete in spite of the tremendous growths of the Internet and other digital media.

Information - Japan

On every trip abroad I cannot help to notice one peculiar thing.
Japan imports and domestically spreads a wealth of information from all over the world. Every small town bookstore is filled with Japanese translations of valuable foreign literature.

Yet, "ALIENS", as foreigners are called in Japan, in their own countries usually have very little if any information about Japan. In (large) bookstores I recently visited in Germany I probably could have counted German translations of Japanese books with one hand! And those books, materials acutally present did not really appear to me as representative and informative examples of Japanese culture and concepts.
As an
ACUPUNCTURIST I am probably best able to judge the situation in relation to my special field, oriental medicine. Some of the available translations rather bring shame on the more than 1000-year long tradition of oriental medicine in Japan.
I really wonder why in the face of the booming popularity of so-called "alternative therapies" so few of the many GOOD books (here I speak for Japan and Japanese books) are translated.

Recently I participated in a national conference on acupuncture in Japan. A guest speaker representing the NIH held a lecture detailing the establishment of guidelines regarding research into and application of acupuncture in the United States. This lecture revealed, that the incentive to start studies of acupuncture are already more than 20 years old. Yet, the consensus conference supposed to provide the relevant answers for the issues at hand could not reach any conclusions until the mid-ninties, because there were "too few data/usable research". The persons in charge had been looking in China and throughout the world - except in Japan. Here the kind of research had been conducted since the mid-sixties.

Thus, because other countries are not really looking, and Japan itself not actively providing this information, Japan has been and apparently still is
a sort of
"undiscovered island"
along the so-called information highway!

If publishers should be interested in providing such materials, I would be glad to offer my services. Maybe this would also help a large portion of the world population to get finally access to a large body of valuable information on Japan.


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    7.        Translator as "Bookfinder"

(This article has been published in Japanese in the March 2003 issue of "e-Trans" and posted as a "contribution" at "www.gotranslators.com"


           Not to far in the past there was time, when the military used scouts, sometimes also called "pathfinders" (Merriam Webster: path.find.er n (1840): one that discovers a way; esp: one that explores untraversed regions to mark out a new route -- path.find.ing n or adj.), to find their way through unknown country. Literally, these were people that could find a path not visible to anybody else. During a recent conference on translation, a certain question appeared in several different sessions: what actually is the job and/or function of a translator?

           The answer to this question appears on first sight very simple and obvious, but many of the attending translators and agencies presented widely varying definitions and concepts. This motivated me to write this little article and express an idea, I did have for quite a while now, but that so far failed to find any resonance. I.e., translators should also (or maybe predominantly) be "bookfinders" in analogy to the above mentioned pathfinders. Below I will try to explain why.


           I have been a translator for about 18 years and during this time spent nearly 100% of my time with activities, involving rendition of a certain meaning in one language into another. At times, in particular when the source text is of rather poor quality and/or ambiguous, this also involves a more less significant portion of re-writing or copy writing. Nevertheless, the basic idea is always the same: change A into B. In my memory very few, if any, people I happened to work with have ever questioned or even challenged this view. This is simply the job and function of a translator.

           Yet, if you are a translator in any specialized field, show a professional interest in extending your horizons, or conduct a little research in your own or other fields of expertise, then you will certainly do some reading.

           This puts the translator in a unique position. He or she is not only capable of professionally handle and evaluate two or more languages, but will be reading reference books on certain topics in these languages. Sometimes there are equivalents or even translations of certain valuable references, but most often not. Under these circumstances the translator is put in a position where he or she can evaluate several books that might be worth translating from both a linguistic and a technical point of view.

           I believe that a look at the currently available selection of translated books shows clearly, that the choices are certainly not always professional. They are made by publishers based on information and recommendations of not always certain origin. This provides the general population with a selection of translated books influenced by a possibly one-sided and - naturally - profit orientated choice made by the publishers. But this could also mean, that the average man has access only to a distorted view of the world.

           Today, the internet provides the so-called information highway, which offers users so much information with an incredibly short turnover time that nobody can ever handle. Yet, fast access to a terrifying amount of information could also block the view for the more distinct, practical, comprehensive and interesting information a book can provide. After all, reading should also be fun.

           Often access to the information highway is highly appreciated, but who would like to live in a house with the front door opening right onto the highway? I would prefer a little distance from it and like the quiet small back roads. This is, where books come in. It takes much longer to publish a book than to publish and then update a web site. Naturally this means, that books are always somewhat "behind their time", but that does not reduce their value.

           For example, I am a native German living in Japan. I know of literally "uncountable" translations of German literature, science etc. available in Japanese bookstores. Yet, conversely, whenever I visit Germany and look through large bookstores, I can find at best a handful translations of Japanese books. A very illustrative little episode happened, when I visited the annual Tokyo International Book Fair a few years ago. There I asked a German publisher if they might be interested in the publication of translated Japanese books. The representative at that booth said: "No, why? Publisher XXX already has published two books." Of course, this is hardly any kind of representation of a nation that publishes several tens of thousands of new books every year!

           Thus, in spite of the information highway and Japan being an economic superpower with a major impact on the entire world, it still remains largely uncharted territory (a sort of a black hole), because there is so little real information about it available.


           Now, here is a field, in which the translator can offer a real contribution to international understanding: by selecting and recommending books worth of translation. The translator who recommends certain books might even do the entire translation. In many cases this would be not only be good for the translator, but also the translation itself and the final reader.

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Client obligation!

As a translator I am ALWAYS asked to transform some meaning from one language into another. That's what I am paid for. And clients therefore EXPECT me to provide "perfect" translations.

However, this may not always be as simple as it sounds (or some dictionaries try to make believe).

For example, the other day I was asked to translate some materials for a company intern presentation. I just got a list of words, no context. And the terms were "insider jargon" that cannot be understood without additional explanation and, naturally, do not appear in any dictionary. A while AFTER I submitted my translation WITH a number of questions, the client provided some of the required specific information and a few links to relevant websites. But before I obtained this information, the agency asked me to go over the text again and "carefully consider" the selection of tranlation terms.

I wrote them back that I am always carefully considering what I do AND can rely on more than 20 years of experience. Yet, that does not mean that I can always decide all by myself what is the "most appropriate" translation for certain terms.

The agency then continued "We can understand your feeling of confusion regarding the lack of sufficient background knowledge …"

Yet, this is NOT a matter of feeling.

Clients are trying to communicate = share meaning with other people.

My job is it to help them, but use ONLY THE WRITTEN WORD. That means, there is no gesturing, body language, voice pitch etc. Maybe  a few graphics or even pictures. Still, the written text carries most of the message (as opposed to spoken language!).

In that case the words MUST have a well defined meaning readily understood by both parties. If those meanings are left mostly or entirely to assumption(s) by the various parties that try to share the information, a meaningful communication is close to impossible.

It might be of interest to hear what specialists like cyberneticians, computer scientists or just plain linguists would have to say about this matter. (Scientists like to DEFINE everything they are going to do/say, in order to eliminate ambiguity.) By the way, this very foundation of information exchange had already been established and was of pivotal importance in ancient Greek philosophy!

If the source text / material is not clear, people should NOT blame the translator for doing a poor job, because s/he can work only with the material provided. (Actually, in my special fields I provide a lot more, even correct errors of the client/s manuscript during the translation.)

So, if the original material is ambiguous or of poor quality, you cannot really expect anything but a poor quality translation or even outright nonsense.

A carpenter cannot build a nice house with rotten wood!

In the document mentioned above almost none of the problems encountered could be solved by using dictionaries, because it was INSIDER LANGUAGE that does not appear in any dictionary! It needed the topic specific information from the client - first hand!

 So, I think it would be only fair that a translator can demand of the client (through the agency) to provide clear (both in meaning AND visual appearance) source texts AND whatever subject specific information they have. This is an obligation the clients have, when they wish to obtain translations that are well received by the people for which they are intended!

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Another VERY popular term. In many motion pictures you can hear people say: "Relax!" and in connection with the recent "healing boom" the word "relaxation" is used excessively, to put it mildly. So, let's think a little about its meaning.

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin relaxare, from re- + laxare to loosen, from laxus loose; Date: 15th century; (naturally the prefix means "again")

 In other words, you used to be lax or loose, without tension, to begin with and then, due to some terrible external event tightened up. Unless you RE-lax (soften up again), you could be at risk for developing stiff shoulders, headache, anxiety, eye strain and many other unpleasant symptoms.

The muscles on the surface of the human body are called among other names means, theoretically, that they obey the orders issued by your brain. So, if you order them to relax, they should do exactly that. And if they were to obey you, then there would be no problem with stiff shoulders etc. at all!

Unfortunately, it does not work that way. While human babies and animals have no problem with "re-laxing" after a stressful events, the ordinary adult is bound to keep the tension up.

How come then, that the master in your head is not capable of ordering his slaves in the periphery to do his will? If you are for some reason not capable of willingly relax the muscles in your neck, back, low back or elsewhere – what CAN you do?

I will spare you the dry details, but would like to think a little about "innervation" in humans. This could provide some insights. Both sensory (sending information to the brain) and motor nerves (make muscles move) are NOT evenly distributed throughout the body. Face, in particular the lips, and hands demand a disproportionately larger amount of brain power. (The figures show in 3D and 2D the uneven distribution of brain resources.) This means that both the lips and the hand send an enormous amount of information to the brain, but in turn can also be controlled in an extraordinary fine-tuned way. So, the likelihood that you can tell your finger to relax and fall back onto the desk is probably far greater than you being able to relax your shoulders, "get the weight off". With a little training you might be able to expand the area in which you can successfully tell your muscles what to do. In other words, relaxation also requires practice!

Concentrate on your fingers, from the knuckles to the tips. Lift a finger and then allow it to "fall back", something which is done passively by gravity and does not require effort on your part. Adjust your breathing to a deep slow abdominal rhythm and try to picture something BIG and beautiful in your head. Please remember the feeling of this exercise and later try to expand it to larger body areas.

Many patients come to my clinic that have very tense hands, but rarely anybody notices this. If you teach yourself to "remove" any unwanted tension consciously from your fingers, you might be able to develop a better control of your relaxation.

Fig. 1 3D humunculus showing innervation

Fig. 2 Uneven cerebral distribution of resources.

Fig. 3 When think about something big and beautiful, how about this?


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Everybody does it - 24 hours a day - no big deal. 

YES, big deal! 

Breathing is essential to life. This is common knowledge. You can survive (only survive, not live) for almost 2 months without food, something like 7-10 days without water, but the brain tissue starts dying 3 minutes after oxygen supply has been interrupted. So, breathing is required for survival and everybody does it throughout life, without any interruption. What can be so special about that? 

Special is, that ALL healthy babies do it right, but only VERY FEW adults seem to capable of maintaining this skill. If you don't think that this applies to you, well give it a (simple) try. 

Go some place where you (and some noise) won't bother ordinary people (who might otherwise call the police and try to commit you to a lunatic hospital) and scream. Yes, that's right: scream. With all the power you have and as long as you can do it. Most people I know will be very lucky, if they can keep screaming at the top of their voices for 10-15 minutes. After that your voice will start "fading", because you get hoarse and later you may not be able to talk properly for days. 

THAT would be "normal" for most educated, civilized people. 

My eldest son, when he was about 6 months old, once managed to scream for a full 5 hours - with no apparent trouble. Neither during the screaming nor afterwards. Why? Because he was breathing correctly (which the mother did not like at all at the time!)

 Correct breathing would be the so-called abdominal breathing. Deep and slow, having your belly expand and retract. Textbooks on physiology give the normal respiratory rate (the number of inhalation and exhalation per minute) as 12-15 cycles, meaning a cycle of inhalation and exhalation takes 4-5 seconds. 

Personally I believe that is too fast. 

Too fast, excessive breathing may lead to "hyperventilation syndrome", a condition were the victim may drop to the ground with uncontrollable spasms - like an epileptic. But these victims don't have any brain lesions, they simply exhale too much carbon dioxide. This happens frequently in young girls that keep screaming during a rock concert. 

I advise my patients to attempt achieving a respiratory of 10, meaning 6 seconds per cycle. That may be far longer than you expect, when you try doing that while watching a clock. 

The deep breathing both provides you with more air than you would obtain during fast and shallow breathing and it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide you are venting into the air. That in turn raises the concentration of CO2 dissolved in the blood. And THAT has about the same effect as a mild tranquilizer! Here is reason why most meditating people appear to be so cool. 

So, if you are upset, anxious, cannot sleep etc. - try to slow your breathing as far as possible. 

Naturally, according to oriental thoughts correct breathing also provides your body with energy and power. The power that allows karate specialists to smash bricks and a tea master to prepare a cup of delicious tea. 

But this is something, I will write about next time.

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Pierces - a question from a patient 


   The other day a patient interested in natural therapy and living asked me a question: "A friend wants to pierce her ears. Would that be alright?" Well, we acupuncturists always use needles to "pierce" (from Latin: acus = needle and English puncture (also Latin pungere / punctura = puncture, pierce) the body in various specific areas often referred to as acupoints. There are a few hundred of "classic" and a constantly increasing number of recently discovered "new" acupoints on the body. 

   In the rather restricted space of the ear, said to be representation of the entire human body, too at least a few dozen commonly used points are known. Yet, ordinary needles used on the body are usually only between 0,18 and 0,22 mm in diameter (between 40 and 50 mm in length) on those for the ears are even thinner and much shorter. Now consider the proportion of those things people put through their ears, nose, lips or elsewhere to those of the needles used for acupuncture. 

   If I further may be so bold as to assume that acupuncture effects are NOT only wishful thinking (placebo effects), then you will have to come to the conclusion that piercing could be viewed as sometimes VERY intense stimulation of parts (points) on the body that are otherwise used for the treatment of specific conditions/diseases. Only that piercing is mostly performed without any consideration of the physiologic (if not pathologic) effects this procedure might possibly elicit. 

   As an acupuncturist, apart from my personal opinion, I would strongly advise AGAINST any form of piercing. But the final decision, of course, lies with you.

(I took the liberty of copying these images from a commercial site)


small round needles, ring diameter: ca. 3 mm, length: 1.5 mm

This kind of needle is usually used for the so-called "ear acupuncture"


Intradermal needles, inserted parallel to the skin, length: 9 mm, thickness: 0.18 mm

Compare these with the above shown devices. The comparison is rather frightening.


(both pictures are significantly enlarged images!)

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 Foreign studies in Japan  - my personal  opinion

(English translation of an article written in Japanese published in the September edition of "Ido no Nihon" -> 

「見学」個人的な意見 ....... <- this is the published Japanese version)

          I came about 30 years ago to Japan in order to study Kyudo (Japanese archery). Having a Japanese lady write me a letter in Japanese I inquired in advance from Germany at the Japanese Kyudo Association, explaining my personal situation and politely asked whether that association could possibly introduce me to a Dojo (a place where martial arts are practiced), where I might study Japanese archery. Yet, the answer was, that I shou ld first come to Japan, and “then we will see”. Once in Japan I visited several such practice halls, but had very great difficulties finding a place where the first response to my request was NOT “no thank you”. Finally, the priest Koun Suhara of the Enkakuji temple in Kitakamakura, with the help of people interpreting for me, offered some constructive and concrete advice that led me to study under master Tanigawa at the Kanagawa prefectural Budokan.

          In Japan I am beyond doubt an “alien” (the official word here for foreigner). A direct translation of the Japanese term would be “outsider”. Japanese people by contrast would be ”insider” (although they do not use THIS term to refer to themselves) and still very often consider mingling / communicating with those “outsiders” inappropriate. Outsiders may in fact and under certain circumstances be very entertaining and are welcome to leave their money as tourists, but considering them as “equal” seems to be still very difficult. I spent 30 years in this country and my probably marked lack in proficiency of the language certainly contributes to my feeling of alienation as an “alien” here in Japan.

         Even if some body comes from abroad (Japanese: “on the other side of the sea” - which means exactly the rest of the world!) with a zeal of “studying xxx”, I have heard / been told several times in the past that they cannot be taught because of the language barrier. When I was still teaching English conversation a long time ago I noticed this phenomenon too: when the students are not familiar with the words in question, they easily become frightened and there fore did not make any progress. In the words of those students: “It would be embarrassing to make a mistake, so I become frightened.” Precisely for this reason they rather choose to fall silent than to use the wrong word. Yet, in Japan there is even a proverb that admonishes against this behavior, saying that “mistakes are the foundation of progress” or put into words more likely to be used by speakers of the English language: “practice make s perfect”.

          Acupuncture and moxibustion (oriental medicine in general) is an extremely specialized “intellectual property” (know-how), that has to be and should be 'handed down' from teacher to pupil rather than learned from books. If anything, nowadays this intellectual property seems to be increasingly “marketed”. Indeed, the Chinese people, who happen to be very good at doing business, currently are aggressively marketing this intellectual property on a global scale, so that there seems to be very little room and opportunity for the Japanese to present their view of the subject, neither in written nor in spoken form. 


Pride in the spirit of one's craft

         If you are a craftsman – and I believe that practitioners of acupuncture and moxibustion are quite respectable craftsmen – you should take pride in the skills of your work. It is my personal opinion that many Japanese do not take sufficient pride in their skills. The skills involved in acupuncture and moxibustion globally promoted / marketed (displayed) by the Chinese people are doubtlessly of outstanding nature. Yet, personally I am under the impression, that “Chinese acupuncture” may not necessarily be the optimal technique for “modern man”. The majority of foreigners who had experienced Chinese acupuncture visiting my clinic reported, that they were very grateful for the painlessness of Japanese needling (sometimes including the absence of the “deqi” feeling, also often experienced as unpleasant)!

          My remarks here are NOT meant to indicate a discrimination between “China” and “Japan”. Basically I came to Japan because of my love for the Chinese philosophical background of Japanese cultural aspects (at that time Japanese archery). Some of the major influences during my puberty were related to philosophical concepts like they are found in the “I Ching”, in the writings of Lao Tsu or the Yin-Yang theory.

         Yet, the observation that scientific publications from China pertaining to acupuncture and moxibustion always give an efficacy of 90% and above, while they seem to be marked by a very poor reproducibility and a number of other bold statements (e.g., acupuncture without eliciting “deqi” does not work) have induced in me a more or less acute feeling of suspicion.

          In China, however, there is already a system in place that helps foreigners wishing to study acupuncture there. There seem to be classes for foreigners, specific schools that teach foreigners and directions toward universities and hospitals that allow foreigners to visit. Moreover, it seems to be possible to find out about these aspects through net searches from abroad. Often the per sonal history of foreign authors of articles about acupuncture list the phrase: “foreign studies in China”. Even if this may have only been 10 days, the usually reaction seems to the “fantastic” or “genuine”. In other words, “ foreign studies in China” is a label that carries a considerable <market-value>. On the other hand, the reaction to similar statements referring to foreign studies in Japan seem to elicit not much more than a half-hearted “hmmm”. That means, 'foreign studies in Japan' is an item of only little <market-value>. Personally I believe this is an awful waste of intellectual property.

          Before this background I some times receive inquires from foreigners about the possibility of studying in Japan, because my website happens to have pages in both English and German. The askers say: 'I am already familiar with / have studied Chinese acupuncture, but would like to know more about JAPANESE acupuncture. Where and how can I study this subject, or to whom should I ask for help.

         Unfortunately, I am in most case s not able to answer those questions. Personally I do not know that many practitioners. Several inquiries I made at different times at the Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion Society and similar professional societies always produced the same depressing answer: there is no authority in charge of this kind of information. This too is a great waste, I believe.

         Conversely, I have been asked by colleagues: “Why are you trying to help those foreigners? If you keep asking favors for those foreigners, the other practitioners in the field will come to dislike you for asking such trouble some things. Anyway, any foreigner who would like to study (look for people or institutions they might visit in Japan) should first do sufficient research (meaning internet searches).

         My reponse would be first, remembering the trouble I had when I came to Japan makes me WANT to help those on a quest for knowledge / skills. Second, the above mentioned “research” proves to be very difficult, because probably more than 90% of the large number of acupuncture related sites in Japan are written only in Japanese. Therefore it is very difficult for people who do not understand the Japanese language to find out things about Japan. I think, this means that in intellectual (in particular related to acupuncture) terms the period of national seclusion has not yet ended in Japan.


Introducing Japanese acupuncture and moxibution to the world

         In the past I repeatedly have expressed my personal opinion, that the Japanese people should show more pride in their tradition, skills and outstanding technology, promoting themselves on the global stage. That is, the Japanese intellectual property should be “marketed” more aggressively. For this purpose the following means might be helpful:

1.  actively publishing research papers

2.  accepting/teaching foreign “students”

3.  Japanese people playing active roles abroad.


Current Japanese system

         In the current situation there is apparently no system for the acceptance of foreign students in place at any of the representative Japanese academic and professional societies. And as far as I know their establishment is also not planned. In the past it was already pointed out, that the number of possible applicants in Japan is too small for setting up a class. That is doubtlessly true.

         Yet, many possible forms are conceivable. For example, the academic societies could call upon their members and prepare a list of volunteers that would accept foreigners as visiting students. Then people would at least know who and where to ask. Practitioners who do not want to host foreign students could thus be spared the relevant trouble some and some times certainly annoying questions.

         Those who offered to accept foreign students could then further register more specific conditions under which they would be willing to accept foreigners. (Actually, I once asked a certain practitioner whether he would be willing to show his skills to a foreigner who said, “OK, that will be a xxx Yen fee.” Personally I was unspeakably disheartened by this statement, while the applicant considered that as a matter of course.)

         Some practitioners considering to host foreign students could be afraid, s/he might not understand the language. However, there are many high school or university students (working adults too) that are desperately looking for chances to speak English. Using these as volunteer interpreters would probably make both parties happy. People who may not be able to speak the language, but are well capable of writing, could take over any correspondence. Thus, I daresay that  “language-related” problems are only minor or non-existent.

          The Japanese Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion should function in modern terms as the “global portal”, where people from all over the world  may have a look and then express their consent. The site should provide a broad range of information that foreigners might be looking for. This includes the above stated problem that the majority of Japanese acupuncture related sites are written ONLY in Japanese. Viewed from a global perspective Japan is still a black box (or maybe a black hole): although its presence is acknowledged, its contents still remains obscure ...


Academic achievements

         People accepting applicants for foreign studies must NOT BE scholars. Being craftsmen and taking pride in their craft is just perfect. The majority of people inquiring with me implicitly state that they are not looking for scholarship, but would like to watch craftsmen in action. Although a little learning could not do any harm, these people come in search for the Japanese craftsmanship and superior technology. Technology here refers to “ manufacturing” things and thus means needles, therapeutic apparatuses etc.).

Picture on the left:

Left = sharp pencil mine , 0.5 mm

Right from top

injection needle

Chinese needle

Japanese needle

Injection needles are, naturally, hollow tubes cut obliquely, so that their edge is very sharp and thus suitable for "cutting" into the flesh (vessels).

Acupuncture needles on the other hand should have a slightly rounded shape, here in Japan called "pine needle shape", because it should resemble the tip of pine leaves. 

Although it is difficult to see on this picture (need a microscope), the Chinese needle appears to be simply "pointed", whereas the Japanese needle gives the impression of being very slightly rounded. 


In Japan students are supposed to learn by “watching” their master, not by being “instructed”. I would like to appeal here to Japan as a country as well as the individual practitioners to open their heart (and country) and give people with an earnest desire to learn the chan ce to do so. And show (free of charge if possible!) the world that Japanese technology (engineering) and skills are not second to anybody. Please share this intellectual property with the world and thus put an end to the (intellectual) national seclusion.


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A frequently asked question: Can I learn about acupuncture in Japan?

I have been asked this question not really "many times", but a considerable number of times. From all kind of different people with different backgrounds and intentions. The answers I would be able to provide is, however, not very encouraging. Intellectually Japan still seems to be stuck in the "period of national seclusion". That means, while China offers programs, classes, places in hospitals etc. where foreigners may have the chance to either observe or actively learn about Chinese acupuncture, Japan does not have any classes, school, hospitals etc. that provide anything remotely systematic for any possible candidate, who shows an interest in acupuncture in Japan. Private acupuncturist too, seem to be (very) reluctant to give foreigners the opportunity to observe their treatment for a variety of reasons. These include the fear, that they will not be able to communicate with the foreigners, the assumption that they don't have anything to "show", the argument that patients would be very uncomfortable when being watches by a foreigner (in Japan officially still called "alien"), or the possibility that the observers might start something that either

So, at the moment the best thing I can do, is privately ask people who might be willing to allow people watch their treatments (and I have already been told, that I "should not care for those (troublesome) foreigners, because it will be detrimental to my personal reputation"). 

But, based on my personal experiences, I would like to help any foreigner trying to learn things here as best as I can. Although I cannot promise anything, do not hesitate to ask me.

Thomas Blasejewicz

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Thomas' Acupuncture Clinic

240-0112 Kanagawa-Ken, Miura-Gun, Hayama-Machi, Horiuchi 815

Tel/Fax: +81-468-76-3077