About Professor Tomezo Hoshino
are excerpts from an article written by Ronald Kotzsch for East/West
Journal in 1988. John Denver did a concert tour in the
early eighties and Ron Kotzsch came along as our interpreter.
Exposed to the therapy while traveling together, he later did an article
on Mr. Hoshino at the Hoshino Therapy Clinic in Miami, Florida.
It was entitled, “Hoshino Therapy: Nothing can surpass the
Mustachioed, square jawed, trim and dignified, Tomezo Hoshino in repose looks like a typical Japanese gentleman of the old school. When he begins to speak in fluent Spanish with Latin enthusiasm and expressive flourishes of the hands, on is taken aback.. But one should not be taken too far back. What Hoshino says about care and cure of the human body could easily change one’s life.
“My message is very simple,” he says through interpreter Dashi Kocica. “First, that the musculoskeletal pains that effect so many people can be treated and cured without medication, injections, or surgery: and second, that these ailments are all preventable.” Hoshino explains that back and neck pain, sciatica, bursitis, tendonitis, pinched nerve, arthritis and many other problems can successfully be treated through a unique pressure-point system called, “Hoshino Therapy”, (a registered trademark of the Hoshino Therapy Clinic of Miami, Fla.) He says that his over fifty years of practice he has cured thousands of people, many of whom have been given up as hopeless by conventional medicine, using this therapy-art.
it is properly cared for, he went on, the human body can proceed without
pain or dysfunction throughout life. “We are meant to live freely,
joyfully and with dignity, not to suffer every day with physical pain,”
“When I visit and old age home, I am overcome with sadness,” Hoshino told me. “It is like being in Dante’s Inferno. The bodies of the people have become hard and stiff, and movement itself, which is the essence of life, has become painful. All this suffering is unnecessary. If a person treats his body well and spends thirty minutes each day exercising in the proper way, he can remain supple and active until the day of his death.”
With this, Hoshino smiles beatifically, and to support his first point hands me two thick loose-leaf notebooks. One contains letters of gratitude from some of the many celebrities he has treated and helped, such as the Duke of Windsor, Maurice Chevalier, and pianist Artur Rubinstein, who was almost forced to retire because of pain in his hands. “My gratitude to Tomezo Hoshino,” Rubinstein wrote, “ for the marvelous treatments which removed from my hands all the fatigue of my concert career.”
The other book contains testimonial letters from patients at the Hoshino Therapy Clinic in Miami, thanking Bodhi Kocica (director of the clinic) and Hoshino for help received. It includes, for instance, letters from tennis player Howard Sprague who, after a fall, was diagnosed as having traumatic arthritis in his hand, and from legal secretary Sandy Zapp, who suffered fro months from neck, shoulder and back pain. Each had without success sought help in conventional therapies and/or alternative treatments such as Acupuncture and chiropractic. Each had in the end been helped by Hoshino Therapy.
As I page through the books, Hoshino rises and begins to treat a patient who has come to the clinic. While the man lies face down on a low massage table, Hoshino moves around him with the grace of a dancer, massaging back, legs, and arms with power and precision. His carriage is erect, his movements supple and strong as those of a competitive swimmer. One would guess that Hoshino is in his prime. Perhaps he is. The testimonial letters may attest to the effectiveness of his therapy but Hoshino himself verifies his second assertion- that physical vitality and suppleness need not be the monopoly of the young. Hoshino is seventy-eight years old.
In the United States as in other “developed” countries, musculoskeletal problems are the greatest source of chronic human suffering. One in three Americans suffer from back pain. Millions suffer from arthritis, tendonitis, and other musculoskeletal ailments. Many, perhaps most of us live with and accept”biochemical” pain as an unavoidable aspect of life. And we all accept as a necessary if unhappy fact of life that we will lose the suppleness and vitality of youth.
As Hoshino continues the treatment, Bodhi Kocica explains that the underlying theory of Hoshino Therapy is simple. He says that arthrosis is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the hardening of the soft tissue, muscles, tendons (which connect muscles to bones) and ligaments (which connect bone to bone). Arthrosis is caused by several factors: physical inactivity, overuse or abuse of the muscles, poor habits especially in posture and walking, poor coordination between body parts, and age.
“Arthrosis is the underlying cause of a variety of musculoskeletal problems.” Kocica says. “Specific ailments as well as nonspecific problems such as numbness, tingling, shooting pain, muscle fatigue, and tension originate in this hardening and shortening of the soft tissue. Whatever the particular ailment, the aim of the therapy is the same-to reverse the arthrosis and restore the resiliency and flexibility of the soft tissue. When this is achieved, the painless normal functioning of the body returns.”
“In the therapy we use 250 vital points that relate to the biomechanical functioning of the body. These are selected acupuncture points located directly over the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Digital pressure applied to a point and warmth from the therapist’s hand work together to reverse the hardening of the soft tissues, loosening the afflicted area. They also do so indirectly,” Kocica adds, “by increasing circulation which brings oxygen to and removes accumulated wastes and toxins from the cells.” Over time these influences restore softness, moisture, flexibility, elasticity and resiliency- in effect, the youthfulness of the soft tissues.
I watch Hoshino closely and notice, as Kocica points out, the he is using a technique different from that used in shiatsu. In most digital therapies pressure is applied by the tips of the thumb and the other fingers. In Hoshino Therapy the pressure is applied by the first joint of the thumb with full hand contact, which allows the therapist to firmly grasp the surrounding muscles with the rest of his hand and also helps prevent overuse of the thumb and forearm. I am told that the transmission of warmth from the therapist’s palm and fingers into the muscle is critical for the reversal of Arthrosis.
see also that the whole body is being treated,” says Kocica.
“The therapy looks at the human body as an integrated organism, every
part connected to and affecting all other parts. Thus a pain at
one point is understood as a consequence of problems in a much larger
The Life of Tomezo Hoshino
When Hoshino finishes the treatment I ask him how he developed the therapy. The story of his life is an archetypal tale of a seeker after truth, including great early difficulty, a quest and a discovery and, finally, a struggle for recognition and for the opportunity to share the discovery with humanity.
Hoshino was born in 1910 in Atsugi, Japan, not far from Yokohama, into a family who for generations had been practitioners of Acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine. At sixteen he was blinded by a motorcycle accident and bean to study hamma, traditional Japanese muscle massage, in order to earn a living. Eighteen months after the accident he bumped into a wall and was knocked unconscious. “When I awoke I could see again, “he says, “it was like being born again.”
Hoshino then immigrated to Argentina and worked on a ranch for several years. Six years later he developed neuralgia and returned to Japan to be treated. Hoshino says it was his uncle who cured him with acupuncture and physiotherapy in about ten weeks. “My uncle also encouraged me to study acupuncture.” Hoshino went on, “ he said I had special hands, the hands of an artist, and that I should use them to help people.” From 1935 to 1939 Hoshino studied Acupuncture, receiving his diploma just as Japan became involved in the war. A fortuneteller then told him that he should go far from home to develop his “special gift”. In 1939 he returned to Argentina on the last passenger vessel to leave Japan before the Second World War began.
Back in Buenos Aires Hoshino began his search for a method to cure arthrosis and its many attendant ailments, which neither acupuncture nor conventional medicine could relieve.
Since Acupuncture was not a recognized therapy in Argentina, Hoshino became a pedicurist, working in a clinic trimming calluses from people’s feet. “I realized,” he says,” that a callus is only a symptom of an improper walking pattern and that this is caused by arthrosis in the muscles and tendons of the legs. Drawing on my knowledge of Japanese massage and of acupuncture, I began to massage my clients’ feet and legs to change the condition of the soft tissue. However, because my clients no longer got calluses they did not return for treatment. So I was dismissed from the clinic.”
Meanwhile, bursitis was developing in Hoshino’s shoulder, and he began to look for someone who could cure it. He went back to Japan and visited his classmates from the acupuncture institute, to no avail. Finally he found himself on a Japanese mountaintop resolving to stay there until he cured himself. “For a month,” he said, “I treated myself, using the warmth and pressure form my own hands to reverse the condition in my shoulder. When I came down from the mountain I was free from pain. I knew I had perfected a means to cure arthrosis.”
Once again in Argentina, Hoshino began to practice his new therapy. His “test of fire,” he reports, was the case of the rector of the Buenos Aires School of Medicine. “I examined the rector,” Hoshino says,” and told him he had the beginning of arthrosis of the cervical spine, but that I could help him. I treated him for forty minutes, left the room, and waited, very worried about dealing with such an important person. Ten minutes later he came out smiling. He wanted to continue treatments and asked me to treat his wife as well.”
Hoshino soon began to treat many people, including politicians, artists, writers, and church leaders. In 1952 his therapy was recognized by the Argentine government as an official medical therapy. For a number of years Hoshino had a research and treatment clinic in Boca Raton, Florida. Today, in Argentina, Hoshino Therapy is recognized by the Argentinian Association of Kinesiology and is a postgraduate program for physical therapists and kinesiologists.
For thirty-five years Hoshino has been seeking understanding, recognition, and acceptance of his therapy as a viable medical treatment throughout the world. “It is not easy,” he says. “I do not have money or social status. So I have treated thousands of people, in North and South America and in Europe, many of them rich and famous, hoping that someone would give me the means to advance the therapy.”
Since 1980 Hoshino has been dividing his time between Argentina and Miami, where he has been working with his students at the Hoshino Therapy Clinic in Coconut Grove as well as a Hoshino Therapy Clinic in Boca Raton. Hoshino now says, “I have a clear goal and I have patience. I am like an old coach horse wearing blinders. I can go only forward, never backwards or to the side, until I reach my destination.”
When asked about retirement, Hoshino replies, “Once I thought I should retire. But I decided instead to work for the spread of the therapy. I hope to continue teaching and advising until the end of my life. I want to die while I am working or walking.”
this Hoshino offers his hand in farewell. It is a remarkable,
an unforgettable hand-soft and pliant, yet warm, powerful, and steady.
It bespeaks the entire man, in whom are combined the flexibility of
an infant, the enthusiasm of a child, the strength of a young man, and
the peace of an old one. However many people have been helped
by Hoshino Therapy, its most eloquent testimony is the man himself.
Trained and Certified Hoshino Therapists
In the mid seventies, Hoshino Therapist Richard Zukowski headed the Hoshino Therapy Clinics in Florida. I began to apprentice with Richard in 1978. Our curriculum was full time in the clinic. We were a group of about twelve therapists/students. We were in the clinic by 7 am and for the first hour and sometimes two, we worked on each other. In the beginning the purpose was to develop strength of touch. It was a bit grueling to lie on the table because the idea of dosage came much later. So the person on the table really had to grin and bare it. Even though much of it was painful, it enabled the receiver to feel what is agreeable and what is not relative to a pain threshold. After months of strong application, my hands began to change and become more pliable. Because Mr. Hoshino was very limited with the English language, the three principles he repeated over and over were: 1-Contact 2- Exact point and 3- Dosage.
When my hands opened more, I was invited to assist Richard in working on clients. He would always explain the condition of the client he was working on and place my hands on the affected area to get the feel of a dysfunctional tissue. After a year or so, my understanding of the points and their locations along the tendon fiber of the muscle became more apparent and obvious to the feel. My touch became more sensitive and knowledgeable. Eventually, I was able to assess and administer a treatment on my own and my time in the clinic evolved to practitioner. The meanings of contact, exact point and dosage began to make more sense and even after decades of practice new information would only strengthen the principles. The pressure from a Hoshino therapist’s hands is less sharp than that in a typical Shiatsu massage. Yet it is more focused and penetrating than that in a Swedish massage. Since the therapist is applying pressure and friction to hard and short muscles and tendons, there is some discomfort and sometimes pain. But for the most part, the treatment is warming and stimulating, and afterwards one feels both relaxed and energetic.The bad news about Hoshino Therapy is that there are very few therapists practicing in this country. In fact, only about ten U.S. practitioners are entitled to use the Hoshino trademark. I am a certified Hoshino Therapist trained at the Hoshino Therapy Clinics in Miami and Boca Raton. I was certified in 1978. My final exam was to give Professor Hoshino a full treatment using all 250 points with proper contact, dosage and exactness. I have worked on Professor Hoshino many times before in partial treatments. Whenever I didn’t have proper contact, missed an exact point or applied the wrong dosage, Hoshino was quick to take my hand and place it properly over the muscle, sometimes giving me the stink eye or slapping my hands. Although, when I did get it right he had the most encouraging smile. It was both an honor and a little intimidating to work on Professor Hoshino. Needless to say, if a practitioner is approved by Mr. Hoshino they are truly ready to enter the field.