Japanese Massage Tools

Updated February 21, 2017

Massage tools, like a masseuses' firm hands, stimulate pressure points which alleviate body stress. The term for Japanese massage, shiatsu, comes from the Japanese words "shi" and "atsu" meaning "finger pressure." Similar to Chinese acupressure, shiatsu treats psychological and physical problems and painful areas on the body by applying soft, strong pressure to pressure points. Massage tools are available to treat the body with or without a practitioner.

Magonote or Back scratcher

In Japanese a back scratcher is called a magonote or, grandchild's hand. Backscratchers stimulate pressure points and relieve stress throughout the body when a user scratches the wooden tool to massage his back, feet or scalp. Some back scratchers feature small nodules or raised dots that stimulate nerves to provide a penetrating massage even through clothing.


A traditional Japanese tool, bongers are long wooden drumstick like tools with cloth or rubber ball ends used for breaking down muscle tension. When a masseuse hits the bonger softly on a person's back, the pressure and immediate relief stimulate circulation.

Hand Rollers

Hand rollers are simply constructed wooden tools with relaxing massage capabilities. Available in various sizes, shapes, lengths and ribbed patterns, hand rollers stimulate meridian (acupressure) points on the body to help relieve stress and aid in healing. The stimulation is constant and soothing, and the tool is inexpensive to buy or make.

Heated Neck and Shoulder Massager

Shiatsu-like vibration neck massagers rest or wrap comfortably around the neck and offer vibrating massages that ease tension for a stiff neck and shoulders. A control allows the user to choose the massage intensity and frequency and to control heat. Heat loosens the muscles and does the work that a masseuse would perform.

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About the Author

Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.