Foreword E

Foreword from “Sotai Treatment Room” by Hiromi Hatakeyama


To commemorate the ninetieth birthday of Sotai founder Dr. Keizo Hashimoto, in 1987 his disciple Hiroshi Miura wrote “Sotai-ho Chiryoushitsu,” the original Japanese version of “Sotai Treatment Room.”

What is Sotai? Sotai is neither Western nor Eastern medicine. Dr. Hashimoto called it “Japanese medicine.” Geographically, Japan is at the edge of Eurasia. Many things flow like drifting snow to Japan from China and Europe, some trash and some treasure. Dr. Hashimoto called Sotai one such treasure.

I’m often asked what is the difference between Sotai and Sotai-ho? This is a very important topic. In Japanese, “ho” means rule, but among manual therapists it also means technique. The word Sotai means all of Dr. Hashimoto’s philosophy, including balance among breath, diet, movement, thought, environment, why people get sick, and the order of processes leading to sickness or health.

The marvels of Sotai treatment are based on a deep understanding of that philosophy. Sotai-ho refers to the techniques that Dr. Hashimoto used in treatment, and is only one small part of Sotai.

From the viewpoint of conventional treatment, Sotai goes against common sense. Western medicine’s order of processes leading to sickness or health is opposite to that of Sotai. Western medicine focuses on pathology as set forth by Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow. For example, the bacteria called Helicobacter pylori is named as the cause of stomach ulcers.

In Sotai, however, the cause of symptoms is body imbalance due to lack of personal responsibility in lifestyle for meeting requirements of breath, diet, movement, and thought. Breath, diet, movement, thought, and environment are all subject to rules.

Breath indicates both physical and mental states. Balanced breath enables mind-body balance. Dr. Hashimoto also spoke about using the breath to balance sexual activity.

Human diet can be prescribed by tooth type. Adults normally have 4 canines, 8 incisors, and 16 molars (excluding wisdom teeth). Classified by function, there are 4 teeth for meat, 8 for vegetables, and 16 for fibrous foods such as grains, beans, potatoes, seaweed, and fruit, etc., for a ratio of 4:8:16 = 1:2:4. Accordingly, eating a ratio of 1 part meat: 2 parts vegetables: 4 parts fibrous food, etc., can be said to match human teeth. Dr. Hashimoto borrowed this idea from Masaharu Taniguchi, founder of the new religion Seicho no Ie (literal translation: House of Growth).

Movement refers to kinesiological principles. At present, Miura is expanding on the theory, but originally there were 3 principles and 1 correlation: Principle of the Center of Gravity (using little finger and big toe as points of action), Principle of Shifting Weight (using the center of the body as center of gravity; later evolved to initiate movement from the ball of the foot at the big toe, to be explained in a later publication), and Principle of Linkage in Movement (when one part is moved, all other parts move in linkage), and Correlation of Breath with Movement (inhaling shifts weight to heels, and exhaling shifts weight to toes; breath moves the chest and abdomen, which moves the spine, which moves the whole body). Dr. Hashimoto explained only by saying that people can do eight movements by themselves. Miura, however, systematized the kinesiological linkages and published them in books starting in 2003 (available only in Japanese). Those books explain how the eight movements possible starting from wrist or ankle link to the whole body. A person without body imbalance will exhibit natural linkages, while an imbalanced body results in unnatural linkages. Following the principles results in movement efficiency with good stamina, beautiful form, and a balanced mind and body.

Disobeying the principles burdens the body and causes imbalance. Originally, Sotai followed the concept: “Mistaken usage and movement of the body hurts it, so move to heal it.”

Thought refers to mental activity. Dr. Hashimoto had ties with Protestantism in his youth. He never became a Christian, but he attended church until going to war as an army doctor at age 38. He was tormented by self-hatred from age 18 to 23. As he later wrote, sex was a major issue for him during those years. He associated sex with violation of the commandment that “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” which would mean going to hell. He struggled to find a way to pray to god to gain access to heaven. One day he heard a surprising sermon by an unnamed minister, who quoted a verse from the Epistle to the Ephesians and said that all people are born saved. This enabled him to understand the difference between absolute and relative, salvation and karma. In other words, the absolute salvation of all born, and the relative karma (cause and effect) during life in this world. Inability to distinguish between salvation and karma causes suffering from delusion – believing what exists does not, and what does not exist does. Dr. Hashimoto wrote that he at once changed from a nervous worrier to a happy-go-lucky person. Understanding the difference between salvation and karma is essential to understanding Sotai and Dr. Hashimoto’s philosophy.

Later, Dr. Hashimoto spoke about gratitude and how “Words are the steering wheel of destiny.” He said you can maintain an equanimous mind by speaking with precision. In modern times, it’s not easy to be optimistic and big-hearted, so it’s necessary to be careful of word choice. Dr. Hashimoto said, “The wise can speak precisely and the foolish cannot.” Speech based on unfiltered emotions full of bad intentions hurts the speaker more than anyone else. As the proverb goes, “Don’t spit into the sky.” Mental health problems have been increasing in Japan since the 1990s. In 2011, The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare added mental disorder as a fifth major disease to the list of cancer, cerebral stroke, acute myocardial infarction, and diabetes.

Oddly enough, that matches Sotai evolution. When mental disorders began increasing in the mid-1980s, Sotai treatment changed from Dr. Hashimoto’s diagnosing full-range-movement, moving in the comparatively easier direction, and instantaneously relaxing, to Miura’s confirming pleasure in each individual movement regardless of range as the diagnosis and experiencing that pleasure as the treatment. In other words, Sotai changed from being movement-based to sensation-based. Other manual therapies have shown a similar trend of shifting from somewhat harsh adjustments to softer techniques. This is a sign that people’s bodies and minds are requesting approaches that are kind to the body. In addition, yin and yang eras have 800 year cycles. The last yang, or masculine, era ended in 1945, marking the start of the current yin era. Yin eras are characterized by femininity, kindness, and harmony. This is consistent with the Age of Aquarius.

Sotai did not originally focus on pleasurable sensation. Dr. Hashimoto mainly analyzed movement to compare easy versus painful direction. Nowadays Sotai is associated with pleasure, but it has been a long road.

Dr. Hashimoto (1897-1993) was born in Fukushima Prefecture. He graduated from medical school and earned a medical license. He received the most advanced education for a doctor of Western medicine at the time. In his 30s, he worked at a clinic in Hakodate City, Hokkaido (Hakodate is a big seaport where ships left for America after Japan’s period of seclusion).

Although Dr. Hashimoto had learned the latest Western medicine, he found that it didn’t help much in actual treatment, particularly for orthopedic symptoms such as low back and knee pain. If treatment was not effective, patients didn’t come. He noticed that patients would go to receive acupuncture, Do-In (exercises), bone-setting, and other folk medicine.

In those days, doctors of Western medicine had overwhelming authority. Folk medicine was viewed as superstitious and held very low position. However, Dr. Hashimoto wanted to know what folk medicine practitioners were doing, so he invited them to talk. Sometimes he treated them to lunch. They were extremely surprised and pleased that a Western medical doctor would listen to them, so they taught him as many techniques and secrets as they could. He realized that they were all indirectly eliminating symptoms by balancing the body. Ironically, even when they knew how to heal, they did not know why the healing occurred. He had realized something they had not.

Later, he heard that a friend’s father had recovered from a weakened state by receiving Seitai Jutsu, a method of moving toward the easy, unpainful direction, tensing for several seconds, then instantaneously relaxing. The theory was that instantaneously and completely relaxing would correct body distortions.

Until then, most manual therapies had involved causing pain. Dr. Hashimoto later told Miura, “Nothing tops healing without pain.”

Setai Jutsu is called the origin of Sotai. This refers to Sotai’s mobility diagnosis, where the patient compares two movements as easier and harder, moves in the easy direction, holds and contracts for several seconds at a certain point, and then instantaneously relaxes. The practitioner decides the range of movement. Accordingly, early Sotai closely resembled Seitai Jutsu.

In America and other foreign countries, this early form of Sotai resembling Seitai Jutsu spread under the name of “Sotai-ho.” That form of Sotai-ho can basically be classified as Seitai Jutsu.

Dr. Hashimoto went to war three times as an army doctor. He was in North Korea at the end of the Second World War. After three years of internment in Siberia, he returned to Japan. While in Siberia, he had Soviet communism hammered into his head, but he decided that Japanese mythology in the Kojiki (literal translation: “Records of Ancient Matters”) and George Osawa’s (founder of macrobiotics) yin-yang theory were superior. Later his interest would change from Christianity to the old mythology and religion of Japan.

Dr. Hashimoto returned to Japan in 1948, the same year that Hiroshi Miura was born.

Sotai changed from mobility diagnosis, in which practitioners decided movement range, to patients performing an active movement and analyzing the accompanying sensation that only the patients themselves could feel.

Early Sotai was comparing opposite movements such as left/right and forward/back, performing the easier movement to the full range, holding contraction for several seconds, and instantaneously relaxing. Miura calls that “D1.” It is a mobility diagnosis to compare easier movements versus harder movements.

Allow me to provide a brief biography of Hiroshi Miura. At age 18, Miura attended judo therapy (bonesetter) school in Sendai. He had practiced judo since age 5 and joined the school’s judo club. The school offered classes in judo therapy and acupuncture. One day, Miura spotted an older gentleman with straight posture riding a bicycle. He thought the gentleman looked quite dapper. He asked a female receptionist at the school who the man was. She replied that he was a doctor named Keizo Hashimoto who taught in the acupuncture department.

Before long, Miura spoke to the doctor named Keizo Hashimoto, saying, “I’m in the judo therapy department, but I want to attend your class.” Dr. Hashimoto said yes, probably thinking Miura was an interesting young man. As a condition, Miura had to sit in the front row.

After a while, Dr. Hashimoto asked Miura to become his apprentice. Miura did not know at the time, but Dr. Hashimoto had secretly summoned Miura’s father from Kobe to Sendai and requested him to “let me watch over your son.”

Dr. Hashimoto wanted Miura to live with him, but instead Miura chose to stay near Dr. Hashimoto’s Onkodo clinic. Miura arrived each day at 5am to prepare the clinic for opening, and helped at the nearby orthopedic office of Dr. Hashimoto’s older son. When Miura graduated from the judo therapy department, he entered the acupuncture department. Dr. Hashimoto paid his entire tuition for acupuncture school. Miura obtained national licenses for judo therapy, acupuncture, moxibustion, shiatsu, anma, and massage.

Miura spent five years as Dr. Hashimoto’s apprentice. He wanted to spend a little longer providing free service after finishing his apprenticeship, as is traditional, but Dr. Hashimoto instructed him to open a business in Tokyo. Miura went to Tokyo to start a business from scratch.

Dr. Hashimoto’s son, Yasuo Hashimoto, was the vice president of Hotel Okura Tokyo. Hotel Okura Tokyo is Japan’s most elegant hotel, boasting the hospitality of a hotel and the immaculate service of a Japanese inn. It has been adored by foreign celebrities, including the late Steve Jobs.

Miura worked from morning until night after moving to Tokyo. He saved enough to start his own business, and found a location for his treatment room in Setagaya Ward with the help of Yasuo. Miura gained Yasuo’s acknowledgement because Yasuo’s mother (Dr. Hashimoto’s wife) Chiyo was fond of Miura. Yasuo told Miura, “You must be great because my mother likes you and she’s the strictest judge I know.” On his father’s advice to “contribute to people’s health,” Yasuo opened the Okura Health Club in Hotel Okura Tokyo as Japan’s first health club (Japan’s most high-class and expensive health club; it remains famous among politicians and celebrities). Miura has worked there since it opened. Yasuo Hashimoto passed away in 2006, but Miura continues to teach Sotai to clients there twice a month.

Even after starting a business in Tokyo, once a month Miura went to see Dr. Hashimoto in Sendai. In 1978, Miura began teaching a regularly scheduled Sotai seminar in Tokyo. Akihiro Kon was a participant who showed particular enthusiasm by commuting all the way from Sendai to Tokyo before there were Shinkansen bullet trains.

At age 85, Dr. Hashimoto was considering retiring. The Hashimoto family asked Miura, “Do you know someone who could take over for Dr. Hashimoto?” Miura introduced Kon, who began working at Onkodo.

On Kon’s first day of work, Miura was in Sendai. In between the am and pm clinic hours, the 85 year old Dr. Hashimoto was drinking tea with the 35 year old Miura in front of a charcoal brazier. Dr. Hashimoto muttered, “Just ask if it feels good” and “People get better by feeling good.” Those words made a huge impact on Miura. For years, Miura had done Sotai as “moving toward the easy direction,” as he had learned from his teacher Dr. Hashimoto. On that occasion, Sotai changed its priority from easy movement to pleasurable sensation.

Miura spent five years to create a diagnosis and treatment method based on pleasurable sensation. He named this method “D2.”

Five years later, at an event to celebrate his 90th birthday, Dr. Hashimoto said, “Ease is different from pleasure.” Unfortunately, however, many of Dr. Hashimoto’s pupils there were overly focused on the meal, and failed to hear their teacher say, “Ease is different from pleasure” (Miura did not attend the event, but he heard from his pupil who was there). This would later lead to confusion between easy movement and pleasurable sensation.

Dr. Hashimoto’s book “Manbyou wo Naoseru Myouryohou” (literal translation: “Miraculous Treatment to Cure All Ills”) became a bestseller (the English version is called “Sotai Natural Exercise” and contains incorrect illustrations and photographs). The book mistakenly states that the practitioner can one-sidedly decide whether or not to obey the patient’s pleasure, how many repetitions the patient should do, and whether or not the patient should instantaneously relax. The book is still sold in Japan, but since it was written during the era of easy movement before the shift of basis to pleasurable sensation, easy movement and pleasurable sensation continue to be confused in many cases. Sotai shifted from “easy movement” to “pleasurable sensation” when Dr. Hashimoto turned 85, but the book was written before he was 80. When Kon began working at Onkodo, he encountered difficulty because the way Dr. Hashimoto treated patients was different from the content of “Manbyou wo Naoseru Myouryohou.” Dr. Hashimoto did not one-sidedly decide for patients about instantaneous relaxation or repetitions. When Kon asked, “Is it okay to not do the method described in ‘Manbyou wo Naoseru Myouryohou’?” Dr. Hashimoto replied, “That book has errors. Just obey the patient’s pleasure. The practitioner doesn’t have to decide for the patient about instantaneous relaxation and number of repetitions.”

In “Sotai Treatment Room,” the method described is mainly sensation analysis (“D2”). The original Japanese version was supposed to have a different title (literal translation: “Onkodo Treatment Office”) and Dr. Hashimoto as editorial supervisor. However, the Hashimoto family, who served as advisor for Onkodo management, rejected that plan. They argued that Dr. Hashimoto had not said the things about pleasure that Miura claimed. They refused usage of Onkodo in the title, and stopped the editorial supervision by Dr. Hashimoto. They refused to even place the book in the Onkodo waiting room. Dr. Hashimoto was 90 years old and unable to argue against his family. However, Kon later said that when he secretly showed the original Japanese version of “Sotai Treatment Room” to Dr. Hashimoto, Dr. Hashimoto said, “It’s well written.” Miura did not know that for a long time. Upon hearing the news, Miura felt it was really good that he wrote the book.

When the original Japanese version of this book was published, Miura was ignored by his fellow Sotai practitioners. Although Miura followed Dr. Hashimoto’s wish for Sotai to use “pleasure, not ease,” other practitioners said that Dr. Hashimoto had not talked about prioritizing “the pleasurable sensation called feeling good.” In particular, Sotai practitioners in Nara and Osaka heavily criticized Miura.

In those days, a peculiar thing about Japan was that people did not normally say the words “pleasure” or “good feeling” in public, because they were thought to have sexual connotation.

Dr. Hashimoto’s powerful follower and editor of “Sotai-ho Shashin Kaisetsushuu” (literal translation: “Sotai-ho Photograph Reference Book”), who is also a distinguished former professor of Tohoku Fukushi University, once rebuked Miura at a gathering by saying, “Ease and pleasure are the same!”

In the 1990s, a book called “Nounai Kakumei” (literal translation: “Revolution in the Brain”) was a major hit in Japan. It stated that “good feeling” or “pleasure” was caused by hormones in the brain, and popularized the notion that pleasure is good for health. What Dr. Hashimoto had said was now medically explained in terms of substances in the brain. During that trend, Sotai stakeholders who had been saying “Sotai is about easy movement,” suddenly began saying, “Sotai is about pleasure.” Even those in Nara and Osaka who had severely criticized Miura changed their tune to align Sotai with pleasure. The former professor mentioned above also said, “As expected, Sotai is based on pleasure,” while lecturing at the Zenkoku Sotai Baransu Undou Kenkyuukai (literal translation: “All Japan Sotai Balance Movement Seminar”), despite having reproached Miura several years earlier by claiming, “Ease and pleasure are the same!” However, the Sotai stakeholders who had refuted Miura’s opinions could copy only his words. The reason being that mobility diagnosis, which compares easy versus hard movements, is completely different from analyzing whether a single movement is pleasurable or not.

Please carefully consider the following scenario. Imagine you wake up with a crick in your neck, so you go to a Sotai practitioner who asks you, “Is it easier to turn your neck to the left or right?” You reply, “The right hurts, but the left is easy.” The practitioner gently supports your head and instructs you to slowly turn your head to the left. Before reaching the full range of motion, and before tension or pain occur, the practitioner applies light resistance. You are then told to isometrically contract for several seconds, and then instantaneously relax. After repeating that several times, you become able to turn your head to the right without pain. That is D1 – the Sotai from Dr. Hashimoto’s era that compares ease of mobility. D1 is extremely effective in its own way.

What if the practitioner attempts to copy Miura in word alone? Imagine again that you visit a Sotai practitioner for a crick in your neck. The practitioner is a fraud who cannot distinguish between easy movement and pleasurable sensation. The practitioner asks you, “Which feels good – turning your neck to the right or left?” When you try both, the right hurts and the left is smooth, but you don’t know which feels good.

As you might suspect, people’s sensations are mysterious. While it’s easy to know which movement causes pain and which does not, it is difficult to know which movement feels good based on comparison, because pleasure is a very personal sensation. Most clients say “I don’t know” when asked to compare pleasures. A phony Sotai practitioner is in trouble in such cases, so they tell clients, “Move around and find where it feels good.” Adding to the mystery, pleasure is difficult to feel if you search for it. Pain or lack of pain, however, can immediately be found. Clients are disappointed when they think, “I don’t know what pleasure is. I probably don’t have enough skill to receive Sotai treatment.”  

In a similar case, imagine that you go to a phony Sotai practitioner for neck pain. During various movement examinations and treatments, the practitioner asks, “This feels good, right?” But you don’t feel good or any other sensation in particular. The reason is that the practitioner’s diagnosis and treatment do not involve asking you to confirm that there is a good feeling. In other words, even though they are using the “easier versus harder” method, they misunderstand and ask irrelevant questions about feeling good.

A client told me that another practitioner once repeatedly asked her, “It feels good, right?” so many times that she finally gave up and answered, “Yes.” When the practitioner asked, “What percent is the good feeling?” and she replied, “Fifty percent,” he became grumpy. Saying “It feels good, right?” before pleasure is confirmed reveals the practitioner’s overinflated ego and lack of study. When basing treatment on pleasure, it is necessary to first confirm whether or not pleasure is being experienced.

The aforementioned cases indicate how treatment can fail to be effective when pleasure is incorporated only in word.

One mistake is forcing the client to compare pleasurable sensations, which cannot be compared, by asking, “Which feels good – turning your neck to the left or right?” In authentic treatment based on pleasure, it is necessary to ask if the client senses pleasure during each individual movement without comparison to another movement.

A second mistake is misdirecting the client by asking, “Which feels good?” and then when the client becomes perplexed, saying, “Move around and find where it feels good.” Painful or unpainful areas can be found by moving all around, but it is rare to confirm pleasure in such a way. Many clients have told me, “I didn’t understand, so I just told that other practitioner what seemed proper.”

A third mistake is for the practitioner to assume that a certain movement feels good for all people. While there are pain scales that enable some degree of quantification, sensations, especially pleasure, are highly subjective and vary from person to person. Therefore, it is important for practitioners to first ask clients if they sense pleasure, and to not impose on clients with an assumption that a movement uniformly “feels good without a doubt.” Assuming pleasure can become sexual harassment against female clients, and I have heard of such cases.

The aforementioned problems have been caused by failure to distinguish between easy (movement) and pleasurable (sensation). Regardless of the fact that early Sotai based on ease uses a completely different process than later Sotai based on pleasure, some practitioners have spread trouble by confusingly replacing the word “ease” with “pleasure.” The early Sotai based on easier movement is not bad. Comparing easier versus harder movements can be appropriate depending on the situation.

Almost all the Sotai stakeholders who bashed Miura often continue to practice Sotai while only replacing the word “ease” with “pleasure.” How can Sotai survive when so many practitioners misdirect clients with mistaken methods? Does this not seem strange? The reason lies in how Sotai spread. Sotai spread as a treatment method in Tokyo and Tohoku, where the founder, Dr. Hashimoto, used it in his medical practice. In those regions, Sotai has mainly been practiced by nationally licensed acupuncturists and bonesetters, or by Sotai specialists and Sotai Practitioners®. Most of those practitioners have attended Miura’s “Sotai-ho Tokyo Kenkyuukai” (literal translation: Sotai-ho Tokyo Seminar” established in 1978. On the other hand, in the Kansai (western Japan) region, there has been a completely different trend, with Sotai spreading as a part of physical exercises for health. A man in Osaka named Kitada, who frequently visited Dr. Hashimoto, is responsible for the Kansai trend. Kitada taught Sotai as an exercise and health regimen to Shigeo Nakagawa in Kobe. Nakagawa’s organization has spread in Kansai mainly as a club activity among middle-aged and older women. In other words, Sotai is mainly a professional treatment method in eastern Japan and an exercise method for hobbyists in western Japan.

Treatment professionals and specialists see clients with medical symptoms. It is of no help to ask such clients, “Which feels good?” or tell them, “Move around and find where it feels good.” However, if Sotai recipients are already healthy enough to participate in an exercise class, you can somehow get away with telling them, “Do the easy movement that feels good” or asking them, “Which movement feels good?” The first phrase is mistaken because easier, smoother, or greater-range movement is not necessarily pleasurable, sometimes harder or smaller-range movement is pleasurable; and if the recipient is already relatively balanced, often a movement will be easy without evoking any particular sensation. The second phrase is mistaken due to difficulty in comparing pleasures, as explained above.

At a lecture in Osaka in June 2014, when Miura asked the audience who could confirm pleasure if told, “Which movement feels good?” or “Move around and find what feels good,” only two people raised their hand. People often do not understand pleasure even after doing Sotai as an exercise for many years. When Miura then asked the audience who understood “easier versus harder movements,” most people raised their hand. In short, most Sotai practitioners in western Japan continue to teach Sotai as a physical exercise without having truly experienced pleasure for themselves.

In eastern Japan, it is generally thought that a certain amount of time and study is necessary to become a Sotai professional. The hobbyist clubs of western Japan, however, commonly consider it unreasonable to pay to simply do exercises for health. Even Sotai teachers in western Japan say, “Sotai is inexpensive because you can do it by yourself” and “Since it’s just an exercise to maintain health, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t effective as a treatment method.” The gap is wide between western and eastern Japan.

In the manner described, Sotai that confuses ease and pleasure remains because many people doing Sotai are middle-aged and older women in hobbyist clubs in western Japan. By looking into the issue further, you can realize the problem with “Which movement feels good?” and “Do the easier movement in a way that feels good.” Using Sotai as part of a medical doctor’s treatment has a completely different purpose than using it as an exercise and health regime. In this way, Sotai has widely divided into two camps within Japan.

After creating the examination and treatment method based on pleasurable sensation, Miura considered how to overcome Sotai’s “blindspot” for dealing with patients who could not move due to acute low back pain or a sprained neck. He originated a way to touch the skin without excessive stimulation, and named it “D3.” I will not explain D3 here, but it undoubtedly can be called “the treatment of the 21st century.” Miura made public his method of touching the skin in 2000. A Sotai stakeholder who at the time told Miura, “Your skin idea is foolish,” later began to promote the skin approach.

Sotai stakeholders tend to be highly conservative. At first they ignored or rejected Miura’s innovative ideas. But when news spread about the effectiveness of his methods, they forgot how they had rejected them or behaved as if they had approved of them from the beginning. Japanese people typically have a “fear of rocking the boat,” so they try to exclude anything that is different from their notion of the norm, such as basing Sotai on pleasure. As the sayings go, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered” and “Envy is the companion of honor.”

Dr. Hashimoto told Miura fifty years ago, “My methods are sixty years ahead of their time, so it cannot be helped that they’re not yet understood.” When Miura became an apprentice at age 18 to the 70 year old Dr. Hashimoto, the Hashimoto family did not approve of Dr. Hashimoto’s unfamiliar manual therapy that did not use pharmaceuticals or injections. Dr. Hashimoto’s wife did not express interest in the medicine her husband was researching, and instead depended on the conventional Western medicine practiced by her son. Dr. Hashimoto’s eldest son was also a medical doctor, but he disliked Sotai and did not foster relations with people involved in Sotai. After Sotai won acceptance from the world, the Hashimoto family too started to accept it.

Dr. Hashimoto said, “Everyone is free to use the words ‘Sotai’ and ‘Sotai-ho.’” After he passed away, his family publicly took the stance that “Sotai belongs to everyone.” About 10 years ago, however, the Japan Patent Office rejected their attempt to file for trademark registration of the words “Sotai” and “Sotai-ho.” Although publicly saying, “Sotai belongs to everyone,” the Hashimoto family was in fact trying to make Sotai their own. They reacted to the trademark rejection by commenting, “After all, Sotai belongs to everyone,” but the evidence remains of their attempt to own the name.

From age 70 to 72, Dr. Hashimoto used a foot technique based on Zokushindo (traditional East Asian foot reflexology) that he called yubi-momi (literal translation: “toe massage”), which consisted of oscillating, dropping, and kneading. Miura added his own original osame (finishing technique), and I introduced my own improved version of another teacher’s technique called yubi-mawashi (literal translation: “toe rotation”). Our method was significantly different from Dr. Hashimoto’s yubi-momi, so we decided to register a trademark for it as “sokushi no soho” (literal translation: “Sotai toe method”).

With the original Japanese version of “Sotai Treatment Room,” D2 was made known. It showed how Sotai had changed from movement-based treatment to treatment based on sensations that only the patient can know.

Miura carried out the will of Dr. Hashimoto and evolved the approach of Sotai from ease to pleasure. The original Japanese version of “Sotai Treatment Room” described that evolution, which reaffirmed the original concept that the pleasurable sensation called feeling good is the essence of Sotai.

The most important thing is to clarify the difference between ease and pleasure.

As Miura’s apprentice, I continue to endure the heavy criticism aimed at him, in my wish to carry out Dr. Hashimoto’s wishes and convey Sotai based on pleasurable sensation. The original Japanese version of “Sotai Treatment Room” motivated my firm resolution to become a Sotai professional.

At present, a number of Sotai books have been translated into English, but they are all from the era of early Sotai (D1) – comparison of easier versus harder movements. The content of those books is outdated, and the photographs and illustrations contain errors.

Although Dr. Hashimoto’s philosophy remains unchanged, in the 21st century people’s bodies around the world are shifting from yang to yin. In other words, the types of symptoms people experience nowadays are qualitatively different from those when Dr. Hashimoto was actively practicing medicine. Evidenced by craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, and Rolfing, there has been a recent shift toward methods that cause less stimulation and discomfort. This is the trend of the times.

Of course, Sotai too is changing. I hope that this English translation will help readers transition even a little bit from “fossil-age Sotai” to the present day.

This book was not only translated, but also updated to reflect Miura’s more current teachings, by Gregory Rosen, who is from New York and serves as a member of the Tokyo Sotai Forum Board. The translation of such challenging content about the “world of sensations” was made possible by his high level of Japanese fluency and deep understanding of Sotai and Japanese culture. I look forward to his introducing a sophisticated Sotai approach in tune with the times, instead of the currently popular fossil-age approach, to the English-speaking world.

The cover was designed by Masakazu Teramoto, who is also a member of the Tokyo Sotai Forum Board.

May you enjoy the world of Sotai.

Hiromi Hatakeyama