Toshihide Mizutani／Masseur, Owner of Niko Niko (Smiling) People
An on-call masseur, Toshihide Mizutani tells me “Anyone’s body can be made to be healthier.”
Mizutani-san makes use of a “hands-on” style of massage, traveling to his clients’ homes all over the island.
Mizutani-san moved to Yakushima 13 years ago. When he arrived on the island and found that even the concrete here was covered with dark green moss, he felt like he was in a fairy tale. Even now, when he lies down on a bed of moss, Mizutani-san can feel the island’s nature enveloping the world of human beings.
His interest in “learning from nature” compelled Mizutani-san to live here. While working as a masseur he has studied widely in the field of Oriental medicine, taking in everything from the traditional to the modern.
“There are lots of trees here on Yakushima that are more than 1,000 years old. And yet, no matter how old the tree is, when I look closely I find new growth. Seeing this, I’m reminded to try to grow a little each day, and not to lament that I’m getting old. That’s what the Jomon cedar has taught me.”
After a massage, an elderly woman once told Mizutani-san, “Please leave your hands here with me.” Hearing this sentiment, and looking for a way to enable people to make adjustments to their own bodies, he developed a self-massage stick. Mizutani-san makes these sticks one at a time, pouring his heart into his work, thinking of each client as he makes them.
To ensure that the sticks are used safely and effectively, he holds a local government-sponsored health class in the Hara village meeting hall twice a month. Just as he takes great care to maintain his own body, Mizutani-san takes a special interest in others as well.
On days off, Mizutani-san plays the ukulele for his 3 daughters who are learning how to hula dance, and spends time out in nature with his family. “I feel that it’s very important for my children to be raised in close proximity to nature. With a greater knowledge of nature, I hope they will be compelled to take care of their own bodies, and be wary of things that aren’t natural.”
Targeting people he can’t treat in person, Mizutani-san has a blog in which he writes warmly and widely about things he is learning from nature with the hope that his readers can treat themselves. “As I grow old, I want to maintain my body in a way that I can be proud of. I want to emulate the nature here on Yakushima that continues for thousands of years.”
Written by Sanpo-tei, Rei Ogata
Niko Niko (Smiling) People, On-Call Massage
- Hara Village, Yakushima Township Kumage District, Kagoshima Prefecture