STORY

JIRIKI SEITAI

The History of Jiriki Seitai

Jiriki was created in the 1990’s by Yu Yagami, an acupuncturist, chiropractor, yoga practitioner and instructor living in Japan. In 1976, at the age of 23, Yu opened an acupuncture chiropractic clinic.

Despite its success, he begun to question whether this work was really treating the fundamental issues of his patients’ health. He found out that patients were relying too much on their therapist without changing their lifestyle or believing in the body’s natural ability to heal, and this meant that they were often coming back with recurring symptoms and asking for further treatments to maintain their health.

Yu started to think that in order to find a long term solution to the patients’ fundamental issues and chronic diseases, pains and discomforts, he needed to train them to work on their body awareness and lifestyle, and to learn to apply by themselves of the acupressure techniques in order to tune into the body’s natural ability of healing.

With all this in mind, he started training to become a yoga instructor in an ashram in Gifu, Japan, and he taught yoga there for nearly 10 years. In 1993, thanks to the combination of his knowledge and practice as chiropractor, acupuncture therapist, and yoga teacher, Yu created a healing movement practice called Jiriki Seitai. This discipline aims to teach practitioners to apply therapists’ techniques to their bodies to treat chronic disorders without outside help. Jiriki also takes also inspiration from various yoga movements, which help to mitigate ongoing tightness and misalignments of the body.

Yu has been promoting Jiriki across Japan for the last 30 years, giving classes, holding instructor training courses, organizing workshops and retreats, as well as writing articles. To date, there are about 20,000 people regularly attending Jiriki classes throughout Japan, with 500 instructors, trained by Yu, teaching them. Yu has also published over 25 books and DVDs about Jiriki, covering general health issues such as eyesight recovery, weight management, dementia and ageing, all by using his holistic approach.

Today, his daughter Marie has joined him to continue his work, with the mission of bringing Jiriki worldwide. Her classes and workshops are taught in English, allowing a wider audience to experience the healing wonders of Jiriki outside of Japan. So far, Marie has travelled to the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Greece, Israel, and Canada to share her Jiriki Seitai Techniques. In 2019, we have trained 4 international Jiriki teachers, and currently we offer English Jiriki Seitai classes in Seattle, Nijsweller, London, and Wellington.

Interview with Yu Yagami

The beginning of Jiriki Seitai and the future of Jiriki Seitai

Q. When did you decide to study preventive medicine? Please tell me the motive.

It was when I was 20 years old, in my second year of college.

 

My mother was hospitalized for gallstone surgery, and I visited her every day. Every time I walked across the waiting room in the hospital, I saw the patients look gloomy and miserable. That’s natural because I was in a hospital, and this might not be the right word, but they seemed spiritless. I mean “being dependent on others such as doctors and therapists not being responsible for their own health. Since that day, the scenery was stuck in my head and didn’t leave my mind.

 

At that time, I watched a documentary film called “Chinese acupunctural anaesthesia” in my college. In that film I was shocked with two stories; the person in a wheelchair who could stand up immediately after being treated with acupuncture treatment and a girl who couldn’t speak words could also speak immediately after being treated in her neck.

 

What impressed me the most about the film was the salary of the doctors in charge of each town. Doctors who had treated fewer patients and there were no sick people from the town in a month were highly paid by the government. In contrast, doctors who were busy treating sick patients earned a lower salary. This system is totally the opposite in Japan. Many Japanese doctors have a high income because they are paid for each treatment.

This shocking fact of the medical system in China and the patients I saw in the waiting room at the hospital in Japan sparked a lightbulb in my head. I came up with a strong thought, “The future of health won’t be through treatment medicine, but preventive medicine like how China operates. If each Japanese citizen learns about their own body and starts to prevent themselves from being sick, those people in that gloomy waiting room would disappear.”

 

The 20-year-old enthusiastic Yu Yagami went to a Chinese restaurant owned by a Chinese cook immediately after watching the documentary film as he decided to visit China to study preventive medicine. However, the political system in China at that time wouldn’t accept Japanese young people. The Chinese cook told me, “You can earn a qualification as an acupuncturist to visit China”. With that advice I’ve made the decision to become an acupuncturist. Soon after I dropped out of my university in my second year, I entered the 3-year-program of an acupuncture school.

 

During that time, the treatment was really interesting, fun, and I completely forgot about preventive medicine. When I was a 26 years old therapist, I was conceited and full of confidence. During that time, I was having drinks at a bar on a daily basis… then, I suffered from sciatica from having quite an unhealthy lifestyle. That pain reminded me of the study of preventive medicine that I had forgotten. I thought to myself “It’s stupid that an acupuncturist suffers with sciatica and over-indulgence.”

 

Come to think of it, I have created patients who relied on me without trying to cure their bodies on their own. After all, their health conditions were dependent and maintained by others, rather than independently being taken cared of. Ultimately, I was one of those people who created “The patients” I saw in the hospital when I was a university student.

 

I recalled that I was supposed to become a researcher of preventive medicine and the person who spread the message. I reflected upon my past behaviours and began to think about “how can I establish the education system by setting-up a space of teaching preventive medicine” I then came up with the idea that a yoga teaching system that students could take lessons in regularly would be effective.

Then I started to train in yoga.

 

I trained at the Ashram for 9 years, where young and old people practice the same poses. There were students who were young and able to make poses easily, and there were students who struggled as they were older or suffering with pain and poor physical condition. All of them received the same guidance from yoga teachers. I felt sorry for the students who were suffering during the classes. I then began to wonder if I could structure movements that are “not painful and strenuous, not forced to complete poses, but are free and adjustable.”

 

This is the starting point of creating the body movement. It is the germ of Jiriki Seitai.

Q. What made you decide that “Jiriki Seitai and dieting approach” should be the centre of preventive medicine?
As I mentioned before, I got into yoga due to having sciatica. Sciatica causes a disturbance of numbness and strong tension from the buttocks along the line of the back of the thighs. With the condition, it is not possible for me to do forward bending poses as I have too much pain. It was as if I was going through a penance! For that reason, I always failed my asana exams to become a yoga teacher.

During that time, there was a training camp for yoga students. I went on a fasting camp for 10 days in Matsuyama, Shikoku. During the 10-day camp, I lost 8 kg. Interestingly, I defecated everyday even while not eating.

I was taught afterwards that this was called a residual defecation. In other words, fasting can restore energy that is normally used for digesting while eating and use the saved energy to move the large intestine to detox the overly accumulated stools. In my case, 8 kg of stools left my body.
I regret that cruel behaviour to my body, when I was an acupuncturist going to a bar to drink alcohol until late at night, and weakening my stomach and intestine with cold beer. After detoxing my residual defecation, my sciatica completely disappeared. I then, finally passed my asana exam to become a yoga instructor. This experience was a result of the idea “Detox is necessary as much as Jiriki Seitai” and came up with the method of the dieting approach, which has the same effect as fasting; “meals need to be eaten from 12:00 noon to 18:00 (Any number of times) and the rest is only liquid. The picture below shows a yoga breathing exercise. My waist is thin from fasting.

It’s hard to imagine from the photograph, however, I used to have fat around my waist before fasting, and the fat narrowed the space in the lumbar spine and pressed against the sciatic nerve which caused the pain. After fasting and losing 8 kg of the residual defecation and fat, my sciatica pain disappeared as well.

I learned the hard way that fasting is the method to heal from lower back and leg pain. However, fasting is quite a tough method. That is why I have experimented and studied different eating habits that don’t require fasting but have the same effect by using my own body. I then finally came up with the eating approach, which is “meals need to be eaten from 12:00 noon to 18:00 (any number of times) and the rest is only liquid.”
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Q. After leaving yoga ashram, what was the process of inventing the current Jiriki Seitai.
I started yoga at 26 years old and left to set-up my own business at 35. I started a home-visit Seitai treatment service and gave movement classes at the same time. The treatment method I used was called ‘Sotaiho’. It corrects the misalignment of the bones while guiding them through certain movements, which was invented by Dr. Keizo Hashimoto in Sendai.

The great thing about this treatment is that you can treat yourself by moving your body without a therapist. Even now, there are many therapists who inherited the method and use the practice in Japan. I have taken movements that were highly effective for the patients and could be done by themselves. Those movements shaped Jiriki Seitai in the future.
Q. What kind of patients were there?
I was giving treatment for 12 years from 1988 to 2000.

I gave a movement class in the morning, a home-visit in the afternoon, and another movement class in the evening. Mostly, I treated elderly women for their back and knee pain through the home-visit services.

Then, there were many cases of treating the entire females of the households. It started with the grandmothers, then her daughter asked for a treatment for her menopause, then her eldest son's wife asked for treatment since she couldn’t get pregnant. Finally, her daughter asked for a treatment for menstrual pain. I would visit them every week. My treatment was spread by the word of mouth to families with similar problems, and I ended up going to see them every week as well.

Therefore, during those12 years, I have experienced a considerable number of treatments for the female menstrual pain, infertility, menopause, and knee pain. Intriguingly, all these treatments are done in the same way.

The pelvis opens and closes according to the cycle of menstruation. Therefore, everything feels better by improving the movement of the pelvis to open widely and close firmly to release the nerves connected to the uterus and legs from the lumbar spine. The reason why Jiriki Seitai is popular is because it immediately works on menstrual pain, infertility, menopause, and senile pain in the legs and the back. This treatment is the foundation of Jiriki Seitai.
Q. How did Jiriki Seitai spread throughout the country in Japan?

I participated in the national conference of movement method every year. In this event, I gave presentations on Jiriki Seitai.

 

At that time, the director of agricultural publishing company saw my Jiriki Seitai presentation and asked if he could sell a recorded film of Jiriki Seitai. In 1994, a total of three films were published under the name “Sotai-movement”, each year.

 

The first book was published in 1999. “Jiriki Seitai, removing pain in lower back and legs” (*photo right) This became the best-selling publication and sold 200,000 copies, which attracted people who wanted to take workshops, train to be Jiriki Seitai instructors, and increased the number of requests for lectures and writing books.

 

I stopped writing in 2017′, but I have written 25 books in 17 years.

 

<Right photo book information>
Name of book: Jiriki Seitai method to cure pain in legs and knees
Publisher: Kenko Sosho
Mail order available: Amazon.co.jp

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Q. Please tell us about your plans for the future of Jiriki Seitai.
The name of Jiriki Seitai takes its own momentum, however, I want everyone to know that it is only one of the methods to spread the idea of preventive lifestyle disease and nurse care. I want people to remember “why we do Jiriki Seitai” and “ because we need to prevent lifestyle disease and nurse care”; “It is something you commit and practice throughout the lifetime until you die”

It sounds like a politics broadcast, but at the age of 20, I had a strong desire "I want to help to make a society where people who completely dependent their health on medical care can recover by themselves".

For that purpose, I envisioned the Yagami Holistic Medicine Lab to create a research and educational institution and kept on learning. My dream came true in 2004 and the lab was officially incorporated as a company. Here is the 4 aims of our company:

1. Tell people that chronic pain and sickness can be treated by themselves without a need for an expert and educate the specific knowledge of the healing process.
2. Provide a place where people can observe their physical conditions by offering Jiriki Seitai classes in various local places.
3. Contribute to reduce medical cost in Japan, which have accumulated to 40 trillion yen.
4. Provide a life that is active throughout lifetime and does not require nursing care by making Jiriki Seitai as a daily life habit.
Q. What are the specific activities of Yagami Holistic Medicine lab?
First, instructors are essential in order to have Jiriki Seitai classes all over Japan. For that purpose, we have teacher trainings. As of 2020, we have 500 instructors, and 20000 students who take classes from those teachers.

Secondly, dissemination of Jiriki Seitai through publication. To date, 25 books have been published in 2020.

The third is educational correspondence such as regular publication of newsletters and DVDs. I give lectures in Tokyo, Hyogo, Hiroshima, Kagawa and Fukuoka. Additionally, I give lectures and classes through website, online live streaming, and YouTube.
Q. What is the future of Japan envisioned by Yagami Holistic Medicine Lab?
I would like the government to build a system where not only Japan but all over the world, to gather with neighbours together to practice Jiriki Seitai (as most of the school gyms are available around 7pm in the evening). I will guide the movement through online; we’ll set up a large screen, and we’ll live stream from our lab via Zoom so we can practice together. If you can’t participate at the gym you can join at home for your convenience.


I hope that mums who are raising small children will also be able to gather at the nursery school, and I can provide Jiriki Seitai for them to practice while carers are taking care of mom’s children. In time, schools can start Jiriki Seitai clubs, and students can practice Jiriki Seitai to prevent them from injury before and after sports activities. Furthermore, the health teacher can share Jiriki Seitai knowledge for mitigating female student’s menstrual pain. My dreams began to enlarge by seeing those visions. What I would like to ask educational institutions the most, is to guide students to teach Jiriki Seitai for eyesight recovery.


When a girl wear glasses and contact lenses, she has a terrible menstrual pain. If she suffers from the pain, she also suffers from fertility, and even if she gets pregnant, she has difficult birth delivery.

When she has the difficult labour, her pelvis gets misaligned, and she will have chronic physical pain in her lower back, hip joints, and knees. To prevent this pain, she must practice Jiriki Seitai for eye sight recovery from adolescence. Through this practice she could live without using contact lenses for the rest of her life. A female body which can hold and deliver a healthy baby needs to have good eyesight.
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Q. Lastly, what is the ideal way of living life?
I think the purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness. It is by no means the pursuit of health. So, what is happiness? That is to be able to contribute to people. “I am helping others. There is someone who needs me. I want to make someone smile, and happy” These thoughts and the feeling of joy are the sense of wellbeing.

And the next step is “to have a body which can contribute to others” For that purpose, having good health and be in the best condition is a way to contribute to others. Of course, there are people who are bedridden and looked after by care givers. They also contribute to others by giving people opportunities to care for others.
Bedridden elders who express their gratitude towards care givers and who are always in a good mood are providing “joy of contribution, and joy of caring” to the caregivers. If elders can give that sense of positive feeling, they must be the professional bedridders.

In this way, human beings love to help others more than anything else. It is unfortunate to be careless and neglect health when it is the ultimate tool for offering help and support for the happinnes of others. All learning, maintaining, are the way to make others happy. Therefore, I feel that the best health approach is to aim at "Do the best for other’s joy" for the purpose of life.

I live this way. I have the joy of contributing to others by the current work of disseminating Jiriki Seitai. That is why I can live a healthy life every day. What I feel when I am training instructors is the complete transformation of students. During their training, I sometimes wonder if they can be Jiriki instructors as they pay too much attention on themselves and their concerns, symptoms and pain. However, while they are giving advice and help their students in their classes, they seem focused on supporting others, full of energy and vitality. They look completely different.

That is to say, people who have been referred to as somebody’s “wife” or “mother” changed to “teacher”. This feeling of being relied on by people or making a difference in somebody’s life will increase the navigator's self-esteem. A person’s health cannot be built on selfishness but through self-esteem and respect. That is the root of health.
INTERVIEWEE

YU YAGAMI

Yu Yagami
Born in 1953
Kwansei Gakuin University Sociology major Mass communication dropout
Acupuncturist and chiropractor
Director, Yagami Institute of Preventive Medicine
Jiriki Seitai creator

ABOUT JIRIKI SEITAI