Sumida Ward Board of Education materials

Pioneer in Education for the Visually Impaired(視覚障害者教育のパイオニア)

Waichi Sugiyama

1610-1694, the only person in acupuncture who is enshrined in a shrine (Ejima Sugiyama Shrine). Waichi Sugiyama, who is regarded as the founder of modern Japanese acupuncture, was born in Tsu city, Ise province (current Mie prefecture), as the first boy of Sugiyama Gonemon Shigemasa and his childhood name was Yokei. Waichi lost his sight at an early age due to an infectious disease, and he gave up the reigns of his family to his brother-in-law and abandoned his sword to pursue a career as a doctor. He founded the “KANSHIN method” of acupuncture.

He established the world’s first educational facility for the visually impaired, the Sugiyama Style Acupuncture and Massage Training School, which focused on the acquisition and education of acupuncture and massage techniques. Many excellent acupuncturists were born there. In addition to acupuncture and Anma education, he also focused on the reorganization of the “Tou Dou Za” (a performing arts group for the blind).

Waichi’s education of acupuncture and Anma massage to the visually impaired during the Edo period and the establishment of acupuncture and Anma as a profession for the blind led to the introduction of acupuncture and Anma into vocational education after the establishment of the School for the Blind in the Meiji period.

Brief History(略歴)

Born in 1610. His place of birth is still unknown, with different theories including Tsu, Yamato, Enshu Hamamatsu, and Oshu. He spent his childhood in Annotsu, Ise (current Tsu City, Mie prefecture) from around the age of 6.

Around the age of 17 or 18, he became a disciple of Takuichi Yamase, a blind acupuncturist practicing in Edo (Tokyo). However, around the age of 22, he was excommunicated from his master’s practice because of his poor memory and lack of improvement in technique. Determined that he must achieve something in order to live, he went to the shrine of Enoshima Benzaiten, the god of the arts and guardian of the blind, and holed himself up in Iwaya (rock house) to practice fasting for life and death. On his way back to the shrine, it is said that when he tripped and fell on a stone, he found a tube filled with pine needles in his hand, which gave him the idea of “KANSHIN” acupuncture method. He then went back to Kyoto to learn Irie Style acupuncture and other esoteric techniques, and came back to Edo to start his own practice.

Sugiyama Style Acupuncture and massage Training School(杉山流鍼按導引稽古所)

It was established within the Honjo hitotsume Benzaiten, after the Ogawa-cho residence. This location was received by Waichi Sugiyama from Tsunayoshi Tokugawa. It is now the Ejima Sugiyama Shrine (Sumida-ku, Tokyo). In September 18, 1682, the private school was changed to the Acupuncture Treatment School. This was the first notable education for the blind in the history of education in the world.

In 1693, one hundred years before Valentin Haüy specially educated the blind in France in 1784, Waichi received the land of Honjo hitotsume. He built Benzaiten Shrine there (he died before moving the Acupuncture Treatment School from Ogawa-cho to the Honjo hitotsume site). In 1741, the office of the So-Kengyo was moved to a new location (by the 7th Shiraishi Kengyo). Around 1768, the Acupuncture Treatment School was moved (by the 25th Wakamura Kengyo). In November 3, 1871, the Meiji government abolished the government office for the blind. The Kyoto Shoku-yashiki and Edo Soroku-yashiki were confiscated.

The Acupuncture Treatment School was expanded to 45 lecture halls in the suburbs of Edo and other countries by Yasukazu Mishima, a disciple of Waichi, and Sugiyama Style acupuncture was spread throughout Japan. From Mishima’s students came Wadaichi Shimaura, who wrote the “Sugiyama-ryu Shukan Sen Shin Ron (Sugiyama Style acupuncture theory)”, and his son Naohide also took over his position.

Initial education (~18 years old)(初期教育)

Three years each of basic education in massage and acupuncture (six years total).
Textbooks include the Sugiyama Ryu Sambu Sho (Sen Shin Sanyoshu (Three Essentials of Acupuncture), Ryouchi no Daigai Shu (Outline of Treatment), and Igaku Setsuyo Shu (Medical Dictionary)).

Mid-term education (~28 years old)(中期教育)

Education up to the technical level of current “KANSHIN method” acupuncture.
Textbooks consisted mainly of the first volumes of the Sugiyama Shin Den Ryu.

Late stage education (~32 years old)(後期教育)

Education up to the level of teaching Sugiyama Shin Den Ryu acupuncture to others.
The textbook is a volume of the Sugiyama Shin Den Ryu Catalog (Shin Den Ryu Omote no Maki, Chu no Maki, Okuryu Tora no Maki). At the end of the course, a copy of Shinbuncho is handed down to the student.

Final education (~50 years old)(最終教育)

One volume of Sugiyama Shin Den Ryu secrets is handed down. 
The important techniques of Waichi, such as “KANSHIN method” and Okugi, were devised by his successors and kept secret from the general public as “Sugiyama Shin Den Ryu Hiden”, and were only passed on orally to those who had advanced skills. The Edo shogunate treated patients in the following areas: internal medicine, surgery (wound care), acupuncture, oral medicine, ophthalmology, pediatrics, and obstetrics. Among the blind, Yamakawa Kengyo Jokan served as an acupuncturist for the third Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu. Nine of Waichi Sugiyama’s disciples served the shogunate as acupuncturists, and five others were appointed by various feudal lords (Kurimoto Sugisetsu, the only one sighted, was appointed as Yoriai Ishi (doctor) in the fifth year of the Genroku era and as Oku Ishi (doctor) in the sixth year).

Books by Waichi Sugiyama(杉山和一の著書)

“Sugiyama Ryu Sambu Sho” (Three books of the Sugiyama Style): “Sen Shin Sanyoshu” (“Selected Acupuncture Three Essentials”), written for the purpose of educating beginners at the Acupuncture Treatment School. Acupuncture Theory in Chinese Classics.
“Ryouchi no Daigai Shu
(Outline Collection of Medical Treatment)”
Waichi’s clinical work.
“Igaku Setsuyoshu” an overview of Chinese medicine compiled by his successors. The above books on acupuncture and moxibustion were used to teach the basic techniques of tonifying and draining of Ki by Waichi.
“Sugiyama-ryu Shumaki Sen Shin Ron”
“Sugiyama Shin Den Ryu”
(Omote no Maki 5 kan,
Chu no Maki 4 kan,
Okuryu Tora no Maki 3 kan)
it was taught by Wadaichi Shimaura, the successor of Mishima Kengyo.
“Sugiyama Shin Den Ryu
Shinchi Shujyutsu Shougi”
dictated by a disciple of Sugiyama Style (Shueki Osawa), Musou-Sugiyama Style.
“Shinjyutsu Jukkajo” a book of secrets of the Musou Sugiyama Style.
The contents of these writings indicate that Acupuncture Treatment School was providing specialized education that imparted a considerably high level of profundity. The Acupuncture Treatment School was abolished by a proclamation of the Dajokan (Grand Council of State) in 1871.

Honjo hitotsume Ejima Sugiyama Shrine

1-8-2, Chitose, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, a shrine dedicated to Waichi Sugiyama. This site was later Edo Souroku Residence and the Acupuncture Treatment School. In 1693, Sugiyama received the land of Honjo hitotsume and enshrined Benzaiten. In 1732, it was destroyed by a fire. Around 1768, the Benzaiten Shrine was rebuilt, and the 25th Wakamura Kengyo asked the Shogunate to hold a lottery for 10 years, and with the funds from the lottery, he built a new shrine, a Buddha room in Sokumei-in and the Acupuncture Treatment School. In consideration of the fact that Waichi continued to make monthly pilgrimages to Enoshima from Edo, even in his old age, and for the sake of Tsunayoshi, who wanted to be near him day and night, Tsunayoshi granted him land in Honjo hitotsume and had a branch shrine dedicated to Benzaiten enshrined there. The following anecdote is related to this. “In 1693, when Shogun Tsunayoshi asked him if there was anything he wanted, Waichi Sugiyama replied, “I want eyes”, and Tsunayoshi gave him a building lot in Honjo hitotsume.” (“Me” means eye in Japanese.)

“I will give you a Machiya (a house of common people in town), whose land rent is to be used for private expenses, but the disposal of the Machiya must be approved by the government), and I will pray for the coming of Benzaiten for you so that you can reduce monthly visit to Enoshima. The Benten Shrine shall be designated as a historic site (shrines and temples that existed before the arrival of the Tokugawa clan are designated as historic sites and are accorded various privileges), and requests to Enoshima shall be granted a Shuinjo (a certificate with the shogun’s red seal stamped on it, which has absolute authority).”

Current Eshima Sugiyama Shrine
Benzaiten Edo Famous Places Illustration

This Benzaiten is mentioned in the Edo Meisho Zue (Illustrated Guide to Famous Places in Edo) and was worshipped throughout Edo as Honjo hitotsume Benzaiten, and many people visited the shrine by boat from the Ooku district.

Walking from JR Ryogoku Station, passing by the ruins of the Kira Residence where the Ako Roshi raid took place, and after about 10 minutes you will reach Ejima Sugiyama Shrine. This is the site of the former Benzaiten Shrine, where the Soroku Residence and the Acupuncture Treatment School used to be, and behind the main shrine is a cave modeled after the Benten Cave on Enoshima, where Benzaiten is enshrined. The Benten-sama here has a human face and serpentine body, and because of its connection with Waichi Sugiyama, it is a guardian deity of acupuncture, and many people pray for the improvement of arts and for protection against calamities.

 The Ejima Sugiyama Shrine has, as treasures, a scroll of the Great Benzaiten in the handwriting of Shogun Tsunayoshi and the Golden Benzaiten (a Buddha inside a war-damaged statue of Benzaiten), which was given to the shrine by Tsunayoshi.


Miroku-ji Temple(弥勒寺)

Address1-4-13 Tatekawa, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

Ten minutes walk to the east from Ejima Sugiyama Shrine, there is a memorial tower for Waichi Sugiyama (designated as a cultural asset and a historic site by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) and the only acupuncture needle memorial tower. An acupuncture memorial service is held in front of the tomb every year in mid-September. The temple is a member of the Buzann Sect of Shingon Buddhism. The name of the temple is Mantokuzan Shoko-in. The principal deity is Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha), also known as Kawakami Yakushi. In 1610, Ieyasu Tokugawa granted Yuuban the land for the temple in Takashomachi, Edo (now Tokyo), and the temple was built by Yuuban. The name of the temple was Miroku-ji, as the principal object of worship was Miroku Bosatsu (Miroku Bodhisattva), but during the reign of Kiyonaga the 8th, Mitsukuni Tokugawa donated Yakushi Nyorai to the temple, and this became the principal deity. The temple was granted a Shuinjo by the Edo Shogunate, and was an important Buddhist center for the Shingon sect of Buddhism.

In Shotaro Ikenami’s Onihei Hankacho, “Ninin Nyobo”, Onihei plays an active role in this area and often crossed the Miroku-ji Bridge, which is no longer there as its ditch has been reclaimed. In the story, “After passing Morishita-cho, cross the Miroku-ji Bridge over the Goken-bori, and you will see Miroku-ji Temple on the right and Okuma-ba’s tea house on the left”, it is said that when Hasegawa Heizo was a delinquent youth named Tessaburo, he was often given drinks at Okuma-ba’s tea house (Sasaya).

Edo Famous Places Pictures (Mirokuji Temple)
Acupuncture memorial tower

Enoshima Benzaiten(江ノ島弁才天)

Tomb of Waichi Sugiyama. Minamoto no Yoritomo prayed for victory in his conquest of Hiraizumi in Oshu. During the Edo period (1603-1868), Enoshima was a popular place of worship and recreation.

[Signposts]Signposts along the Enoshima Road from Fujisawa-shuku on the Tokaido Highway were made by Waichi Sugiyama and donated by him. It is said that there were 48 signposts at that time. These guideposts made the Enoshima pilgrimage even more prosperous. On the surface of the stone, there is “Enoshimanmichi” under the Buddhist character for Benzai seed. On the right side of the stone is the phrase “all sentient beings” and on the left side, “Nisei Anraku” (“peace in the present life and the afterlife”). The stone is a reminder of the warm-heartedness of Waichi Sugiyama who prayed for the peace of all sentient beings in this life and the next life.
[Fukuishi]Fukuishi is the stone which Waichi Sugiyama stumbled upon to invent “KANSHIN method”. From the fact that Waichi Sugiyama was selected as the 27th Kengyo and rose through the ranks to become the top So-Kengyo of the Kanto region, and that he lived a full life till the age of 85, it is said that if you pick up something near the stone, you will be blessed. Buried at Miroku-ji Temple in Honjo hitotsume, and the graveyard located in the Nishiura Cemetery on Enoshima Island, Waichi Sugiyama, who believed in Enoshima, must have been very happy to be able to sleep here.

Fall sick in bed on May 18, died on June 26, 1654. (official notice on June 26, 1654; will based on Kannon faith on May 18, 1654; Sugiyama family genealogy on May 20, 1654; tablet under Enoshima tomb on May 16, 1654)