According to Ms. Miyoko Egawa, Director, Judo Therapist and owner of Asahi olive Osteopathic Laboratory (located on a side street in Tomioka), feet are important, but underrated in Japan.
They support us throughout the day, when we are not sitting or lying down, and yet in Japan people do not take enough care of them.
Ms. Egawa first became interested in osteopathy when as a high school student she suffered an injury which prompted her to consider pursuing a career in health care. She has been in the massage and manipulation (osteopathy) business for over 15 years and received her podiatric training and licence in the USA in 2008.
On entering the premises in Tomioka, you are greeted by pastel pink furniture and slippers, complemented by white wood flooring, with guitar music playing gently in the background. The overall impression is one of light and relaxation.
Ms. Egawa firmly believes that caring for the feet is beneficial for the whole body and that judicious use of insoles helps a person adjust his or her stance and walk, and prevents posture problems associated with a misaligned spine.
Asahi olive Osteopathic Laboratory operates on an appointment-based system, which can be accessed via the clinic’s home page. Whilst she is happy to treat male patients, the majority of the clinic’s clients are women between the ages of 30 and 50, many of them mothers who wish to return their body to its pre-natal condition. This process involves “kotsuban kyosei” (pelvic correction) and treatment for “katakori” (stiff shoulders) and foot problems, such as “gaihanboshi” (bunions).
To make it easier for mothers to come for treatment Ms. Egawa has installed a play area for young children and has carrycots in place, so that mums can bring their babies with them into the massage cubicles.
Being a mother herself, Ms. Egawa recognises the importance of mothers with babies being able to travel around Koto ward freely, and her clinic is a member of the ward’s “Akachan no Eki” (Baby Station) system.
Under this system, mothers can pop into the clinic free of charge if they want to change a nappy or feed their baby, and the clinic’s facilities are equipped to handle such visits.
Ms. Egawa offers a selection of courses aimed at relaxing and treating existing ailments, as well as offering counselling on preventing problems from recurring. Part of the counselling process involves checking a patient’s posture to ensure that the legs are balanced and that the spine is not twisted.
Ms. Egawa demonstrated some of her clinic’s equipment on my wife, who eagerly clambered onto a couch, which turned out to be a water bed. Laying face up, with heavy weights across her legs to prevent them from rising, she waited as the bed went into action. Water bubbles circulating throughout the mattress provide pressure for a relaxing massage on the sides and rear of the legs, whilst at the same time the feet are grasped and massaged. The circulating current moves upwards from the legs to the hips and thence to the head for what was described as a very relaxing massage.
Ms. Egawa also demonstrated the hot stone massage treatment. This entails heating basalt stones in what looks like an electric rice cooker, but is in fact a purpose-built massage stone heater.
The hot stone is then placed on the patient’s back and with a helping of sweet almond oil, is gently rubbed around the back in a soothing motion, which, Ms. Egawa notes, often sends her clients to sleep. It seemed to me an incredibly relaxing way to spend an afternoon. There are several different types of oils in stock to cater to various allergies.
In addition, the clinic employs a machine which uses ultrasonic low frequency sound waves to assist with blood circulation, and a hi-tech German-made machine which uses electronic waves for treating injuries.
Ms. Egawa is an avid supporter of the Tokyo Marathon and is on hand every year near the finishing line to provide a soothing massage to the tired runners.
So, if you want to discuss foot issues, which may be affecting the way you walk or impacting your running performance, or you just want to get your body back in trim, why not book an appointment with Ms. Egawa and head along to Asahi olive Osteopathic Laboratory?
Story and Photos by Jeremy Hutchinson