Oran Kivity


I’ve been posting a lot about habits recently. So much of what we are and what we achieve is rooted in our habits. Our habits help us or hinder us from achieving our goals. Here’s an obvious example: If I spend fifteen minutes a day practising rolling moxa cones, then after five days, I’ll be better at rolling moxa cones than if I didn’t. Of course, that’s not rocket science; it’s just common sense!

But the beauty of habit change is that when people change keystone habits, the effects resonate throughout their life. In my case, the desire to write my first book without distractions led me to wake up much earlier than ever before, and that became a new habit that has had multiple benefits in my life. Even my identity has changed as a result. I no longer think of myself as a night owl; I’m that previously dreaded creature, a morning person! That’s an amazing thing about habits. Not only do they help create our future outcomes, but they also create our sense of identity.

The secret of a successful new habit

Here’s the secret to creating a successful new habit. Spoiler alert. Start small! When you start small, with a tiny, achievable habit, you create momentum that leads you to greater changes. A series of small successes creates momentum, and that momentum grows until it becomes your new normal.

Your five-day tiny habit challenge

Here’s a tiny habit challenge. Can you spare thirty seconds a day for five days? I invite you to set up one small new habit change to do every day. It should take you no more than thirty seconds. I’ve listed five options below as examples. Feel free to choose one of mine, adapt one to your own circumstances or set your own challenge (choose something that takes no more than thirty seconds).

  1. The Maui Habit – Every morning after you wake up, I’m guessing you sit up and put both feet on the floor before standing up. At that moment, when your feet touch the floor,  pause and say to yourself, “It’s going to be a great day”. Try and feel optimistic when you say it.
  2. If you’re a practitioner like me, then every day in the clinic, before you greet your first patient, say to yourself, “Today, I’m going to be focused and calm”. Take a deep breath afterwards and relax as you breathe out.
  3. Every day you’re in clinic, before you start with the first patient, set an intention for the day, and write it down on a piece of paper which you keep on your desk for the whole day, for example, “Today I’m going to focus on reading the pulse better”. If you’re not a practitioner, write down your intention with the first drink of your morning.
  4. Another one for people who do moxa. Every day you’re in clinic, before you start with your first patient, roll one perfect moxa cone and place it on your desk.
  5. This is a variation of 4. Every day, at the start of the day, do one small thing to the best of your ability: make the bed perfectly, make a cup of coffee as mindfully as you can, fold your towel perfectly, or brush your teeth with absolute attention. Just one small, easy task, done with all your attention.

Cues and prompts.

The key to success is to put the new habit in sequence with something you already do routinely. In the first option above, make an affirmation when you wake up and sit up. Or when you get out the notes for your first patient, add your affirmation, set your intention or roll your perfect moxa cone. Use something you already do daily as the trigger for the new habit. Eventually, you can chain whole sequences of tiny habits together to create powerful routines that can change your life for the better.


Here’s the best part. This bit is easy for some and hard for others. Every time you successfully perform your new habit, say something nice to yourself. What? Why would you do that? Because saying something nice to yourself constitutes a reward, and rewards are the best way to bed down and consolidate a new habit.

What kind of things could you say? Well, what nice things do you say to kids? Or colleagues? I say, “Good job!” “Well done!” “Yay!” To myself, I say, “Good job, Oran!” or sometimes, I mimic Aslan from the Narnia books saying “, Well done, Son of Adam!” (OK, a bit weird, but those books meant a lot to me as a kid and it works). Anything affirmative goes, including a fist bump or a simple thumbs up to yourself.

Summing up

Think of a new habit you want. Shrink it down and make it tiny, tiny, tiny and achievable. Laughably easy. Pair it with an existing habit, so doing the thing you always do becomes the cue for the new thing you want to do. Finally, pat yourself on the head every time you do it. Well done, you!


If you’re up for the challenge, here’s a formula. What BJ Fogg calls a habit design recipe. Figure out your cue or prompt. Write it down in the first box. Then write down your tiny habit in the second box. and then, Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, write down the nice thing you’re going to say to yourself.  Feel free to share your recipe in the comments below this post. I’d love to see it.

If you’d like to know more about habits, check out these brilliant books:

The Power of Habit – by Charles Duhigg

Tiny Habits – by B.J. Fogg

Atomic Habits – by James Clear

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Helpful Hirata Zone Therapy Book Review

Maya Suzuki is the acupuncture and moxibustion mover and shaker behind Shinkyu University, which she created to help practitioners deepen their knowledge and practice of Japanese acupuncture. I am delighted to share her review in the Journal of Chinese Medicine of my second book, Hirata Zone Therapy with the Ontake Method.

If you’d like to know to read the book, you can buy it here in the Ontake Shop, on Amazon or order it through your regular bookstore.

Helpful Moxa in Motion Book Review


Moxafrica co-founder Jenny Craig. Jenny really ‘gets’ Ontake and her enthusiasm speaks for itself. This book review of Moxa in Motion was first published in the European Journal of Oriental Medicine (EJOM) Vol 9, No 6, 2021. www.ejom.co.uk

Read the book

If you’d like to read the book, you can buy it here in the Ontake Shop or via Amazon.


Image of Hirata wearing a suit



The twelve zones repeat over the six regions comprised of the arm, leg, torso and (not pitctured here) the face, neck and head.

Kurakichi Hirata 平田内蔵吉

Hot Needle Therapy (Nesshin Kairyo Jutsu) was a Japanese holographic system of treatment. It was developed by Kurakichi Hirata (1901–1945), who developed a unique holographic mapping system of the body that he treated with a heated probe.  

Hirata’s holographic mappings predate Nogier’s microsystem of the ear and all the holographic systems that have come since. Hirata should therefore be seen as a pioneer in the field of acupuncture, creating the first holographic mapping of the modern era.

Dissatisfied with conventional medicine, Hirata wanted to develop an accessible system of self-treatment. He designed a system that was simple for the public to learn and apply by using a heated tool that, unlike acupuncture needles, required little skill to use. He wrote several books, developing his treatment model to a high level, integrating it with ideas from TEAM. Sadly, this young prodigy died during the Second World War.

Hirata’s general ideas on health are quite familiar to practitioners of TEAM. He believed that when the organs are harmonised and balanced, there is no disease. When something becomes imbalanced at the core level, disease develops. It is therefore more important to treat the core than address specific symptoms.

Hirata’s model of disease was strongly influenced by the TEAM idea of “Heaven, Humanity and Earth”. He saw the skin as the interface between human beings and the natural world—the place where disease enters and where reactions take place. For this reason, Hirata emphasised diagnosing and treating at the level of the skin, and his method focused on stimulating the skin with heat.

He developed a hologram composed of twelve horizontal dermatomes (or zones). These twelve zones are mapped out in six different regions, namely, the head, face, neck, torso, arms, and legs. Zones in each region resonate with and reflect the same zone in another region.


There are twelve zones, which for the most part, correspond to the twelve yin and yang organs of TEAM theory. However, as Hirata’s model was medicalised, at least at the beginning, there are no correspondences for triple burner or pericardium. Instead, there are new correspondences at the very top and bottom of the hologram for the bronchi and the reproductive organs. The gall bladder zone and spleen zone also reflect and treat the exocrine and endocrine functions of the pancreas, respectively.

1.               Bronchi

2.               Lungs

3.               Heart

4.               Liver

5.               Gall bladder and exocrine gland of the pancreas

6.               Spleen and endocrine gland of the pancreas

7.               Stomach

8.               Kidney

9.               Large intestine

10.           Small intestine

11.           Bladder

12.           Reproductive organs

Each region is a hologram of the body, and therefore, each region reflects the same physiological and pathological processes in the same way. For example, Hirata believed that an imbalance in the liver organ manifests in reactions on the liver zone in each region.

This synergistic action means that the same twelve zones can be examined or treated in any or all of the six regions; thus, the head, face, neck, arms, legs, and torso can be used both diagnostically and therapeutically.


The arm region and leg region are mirrors of each other, with the flow and numbering of the zones going the opposite way.

Rather than have the zones as an abstraction, let’s start by exploring two regions, the arm and the leg. The zones of the arm form a holographic image, numbered from 1–12, from the top of the shoulder to the tips of the fingers. The twelve zones can be grouped simply into four on the upper arm, four on the forearm, and four on the hand. A little bit like the back-shu points, the arm reflects its anatomical neighbours, with the upper jiao zones in the upper part of the arm, the middle jiao zones in the middle section, and the lower jiao points in the hand. Take thirty seconds out from reading this article to divide your upper arm, forearm and hand each into four segments each. Try counting down from 1–12.

The leg region is similar to the arm region, in that it is divided into four zones in each segment. However, it is a reverse mirror of the arm, in that zone 1 is at the fingers and zone 12 is at the thigh. Try counting the zones up from 1–12.

The torso region repeats the pattern of the arm, with the twelve zones flowing from top to bottom in the same order. The twelve zones also repeat on the head, face, and neck,  but in these regions, as on the leg,  they count from the bottom up.

Yoshio Manaka 間中喜雄

One of the most influential practitioners to investigate and take up Hirata’s ideas was the renowned Japanese medical doctor and acupuncturist, Dr Yoshio Manaka (1911–1989).

Dr Manaka combined scientific research skills with a fascination for traditional methods of healing. He studied Hirata’s books, and enthusiastically adapted his methods, eventually publishing his own book about them in 1982, Hiratashiki Junihannotai Nesshin Shigeki Ryoho (Hirata’s Heated Needle Stimulation Treatment).

Stephen Birch

British acupuncturist, author, and teacher, Stephen Birch, became acquainted with Dr Manaka in the 1980s. This international collaboration led to the publication of Chasing the Dragon’s Tail, written by Birch with Manaka’s input and guidance. It was a seminal book on acupuncture and acupuncture research, and contained some of the first explanations of Hirata Zone Therapy (HZT) in English.

Birch became a conduit for Japanese acupuncture thinking and ideas, teaching Manaka-Style Acupuncture (MSA) globally. However, when teaching, his classes did not cover HZT in any detail. We can guess that the reasons for this were pragmatic.


By today’s standards, the original asbestos-lined, alcohol-fuelled, open-design Mind Therapy Device would not be regarded as safe.

In the old days, HZT involved stimulating the zones with a cone-shaped metal instrument lined with asbestos and filled with burning ethyl alcohol, called the shinryoki or Mind Therapy Device. Few of these remain in existence now, and they would be considered unsafe to use for many reasons.

Manaka developed an electrically heated blunt probe called the tenshin kyu (spiked moxibustion device), but this was not mass-produced and once again, few of these remain in existence. Contemporary Hirata practitioners use a more sophisticated electronic hot probe called the hirata-kun but its retail price puts it out of the range of most acupuncturists.

Thus, we can conclude that HZT never really caught on in the West because there was no safe or affordable device available to deliver the heat. Teaching HZT would have been an academic pursuit with no practical application. Acupuncture students are nothing if not pragmatic—if there’s no application, there’s no value!

Ontake to the Rescue


In 2010, I was introduced to Ontake, a little-known moxibustion tool.  Ontake is comprised of a short piece of bamboo filled with moxa wool. When the moxa is ignited, the bamboo gets hot and can be applied to the skin. The bamboo can be held, tapped, pressed or rolled rhythmically along the acupuncture channels and on specific points.

After reading my first paper on Ontake in 2011, Birch immediately saw its potential, encouraging me to experiment with it to see if it could be applied to the Hirata zones.

"Oran, I've got this little idea. Why don't you go and research using Ontake for the Hirata zones? It won't take long! Honest!


HZT is a unique system of dermatome moxibustion that has almost been lost. Birch’s suggestion that I should study HZT and integrate it with Ontake became a mission—a mission to discover how Hirata worked, how Manaka redeveloped his findings, and how almost ninety years later, we can achieve the maximum benefit from these ideas. The mission ended up as a book, aiming to place the system into a pragmatic modern context so that Western practitioners and their patients can easily learn and apply it.



The model for treatment in HZT has developed over time. When Hirata first started it, it was a relatively simple model, what I call Basic HZT, which used only the zones for treatment. By the time of Hirata’s death, the model was more complex, integrating the twelve channels of acupuncture, although Hirata declined to call them that, naming them instead, “reactive lines”. He gave each of these twelve reactive lines a number, calling the yin channels kussen “flexion lines”, and the yang channels shinsen “extension lines”.

Manaka further refined this integration of the channel system, what I call Intermediate HZT. Today, contemporary practitioners such as Taku Yokoyama in Japan, who studied with Manaka, or members of the Kokusai Nihon Onnetsu Ryoho Kenkyukai, (International Japanese Thermotherapy Association), practise what I call Complex HZT, integrating many other ideas into the HZT model.

In this article, I’ll discuss only Basic HZT. Basic HZT is so simple, anyone can practise it, even laypeople who know nothing of acupuncture. No meridians are involved, so all you need to perform Basic Hirata is the following:

  • A good grasp of the location of the zones in all six regions, especially the neck, torso, arms, and legs.
  • An understanding of how to load, light, and apply Ontake.


Male, 32

Symptoms: Persistent cough and occasional lower backache.

Generally quite healthy and robust, this patient had developed a “mystery” intermittent cough that he was unable to shake. On questioning, however, the timing suggested that the yearly cycle of air pollution in Kuala Lumpur was to blame.

He had also developed some intermittent lumbar pain. Hirata’s prescriptions for cough typically focus on zone 1 (bronchi). According to the location of the back pain, the affected zones were 9 and 10 (large and small intestine). Palpation revealed marked tension on the leg region at zones 9 and 10 (mostly on the stomach channel above the knee), and a few slightly rough patches of skin on the chest and arms at zones 1 and 2 (bronchi and lung).

Treatment consisted of tapping with Ontake on the deficient areas on the chest and upper arms on zones 1 and 2 until the skin felt more even, then rubbing, pressing, superknocking (a brisk percussive stroke with the side of the warm bamboo), and rolling on the thighs until the tension on zones 9 and 10 was relieved. After he turned over, we tapped on the upper back, identifying and treating more dry or rough areas in zones 1 and 2.

No other treatment was given. Following the session, he reported that some stiffness in the back of his legs and knee pain, which he had not previously disclosed, felt much better. This maintained. The cough also cleared for a few days, but when the pollution got even worse at the end of that week, it returned.


Female, 30

Symptoms: Lumbar and buttock pain, and abdominal distension.

She had been coming for back pain for a few weeks and had been feeling much better, but she had a relapse after a long flight home from an international conference. According to the location of the back pain, the affected zones were 9, 10, and 11 (large intestine, small intestine and bladder). According to TEAM theory, abdominal distension relates to zones 6 and 7(spleen and stomach).

There was marked tension on both anterior thighs at zones 10 and 11. Bamboo was applied with pressing and rolling on the right. After the muscles released (within two minutes), her left leg was also much more relaxed, so this was treated the same way for a shorter time. After this, she walked around the room and reported that the pain was much reduced. Zones 10 and 11 were then rolled on the back of both hands. After testing once more, the pain was gone.

Whilst in supine position, bamboo was applied on zones 6–10 on the abdomen from the midline to the midaxillary line, tapping and rolling lightly. Branch treatment finished with local rolling on the back. By then, she was very relaxed.

The session concluded with very light Toyohari-style acupuncture root treatment.

Male, 32

Symptoms: Sudden onset of redness and itchiness to the right eye, which was beginning to close up.

Zone selection was according to TEAM theory, namely that the liver opens into the eyes. Ontake was applied to zone 4 (liver) on the head, arm, back, and leg regions, simply tapping each zone for about one minute until the skin felt warm to the touch. On the limbs, only the right side was treated but on the head and back, both sides were treated. The eye infection reduced in intensity within minutes and cleared up within two hours.


These examples show how it is possible to use Basic HZT with very simple selection and treatment criteria. If there’s a problem in the lungs such as cough, treat the lung zone. If there’s a problem in the back, treat the zones where the pain is. If there’s a problem in the eyes, treat the liver zone because of the relationship of the liver to the eyes. Western medical correlations, anatomical location, TEAM theory, and of course, palpation all helped with the choice of zones, and bamboo was applied without thought to treating affected channels.


I have found that HZT brings extra healing momentum to what I normally do. Thus, if I treat the kidney channel with meridian therapy methods, I can add Ontake on the kidney zone in different regions as an adjunctive treatment. If I treat with MSA, perhaps choosing a Mixed Yin pattern, I can accelerate the release of tight areas on the abdomen by tapping the liver and kidney zones. Whatever system of root treatment I apply, I can focus on the digestion by tapping on the spleen and stomach zones, or improve lung function by tapping on zones 1 and 2.

Palpation is another useful area for HZT. Palpation of the zones of the arm and leg regions always conveys a wealth of diagnostic information. For example, if there are shoulder, upper back or heart and lung channel issues, zones 1 and 2 on the arm will often present with tightness or induration.

As zones 8 and 9 cover the lumbar region and zones 10 and 11 traverse the sacrum, the anterior thigh is a rich area to pick up information about what is happening in the lower back. Tension above SP-10 and ST-34, at the intersection of zones 9 and 10,  is nearly always indicative of lumbar stiffness or pain.


Basic HZT is an elementary treatment model that can easily be integrated into your everyday workflow or adapted for home use by patients.

More sophisticated models of treatment integrate the channel system, and channel pairings, as well as Dr Manaka’s meridian frequencies, tapping the zones with Ontake using a metronome set to specific frequencies of beats per minute.

Deeper study of HZT, integrating its concepts with channel theory and other treatment models, reveals its great potential.

Hirata’s original goal was to create a people’s medicine that treated the core energy of the body. In so doing, he created the first holographic system of acupuncture in the modern age. His influence has declined over time but now, with the integration of Ontake, we can find new uses for his ideas in contemporary practice. All you need is a lighted Ontake and you can start!

Palpation is another useful area for HZT. Palpation of the zones of the arm and leg regions always conveys a wealth of diagnostic information. For example, if there are shoulder, upper back or heart and lung channel issues, zones 1 and 2 on the arm will often present with tightness or induration.

As zones 8 and 9 cover the lumbar region and zones 10 and 11 traverse the sacrum, the anterior thigh is a rich area to pick up information about what is happening in the lower back. Tension above SP-10 and ST-34, at the intersection of zones 9 and 10,  is nearly always indicative of lumbar stiffness or pain.


  • In the 1930s, Hirata developed a twelve-zone holographic system of dermatome moxibustion.
  • The twelve zones repeat over six regions: the head, face, neck, torso, arms, and legs.
  • In the 1980s, Manaka researched and developed this system further, integrating it into MSA.
  • Birch wrote about this in the West, but as no tool was available to treat the zones with heat, the method did not catch on.
  • Ontake started to become better known in 2010 as a new tool that could deliver heat safely, thus enabling it to be adapted to treat the Hirata zones.
  • The zones can be used to add a new level of palpatory awareness.
  • HZT can be used as a standalone treatment or integrated into your standard workflow.

My new book about the Hirata zones is launching on January 24th. Would you like to help out? Check out the post about joining the launch team or just click the button below to know more


Change of Direction

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? In the light of the pandemic, I made the life-changing decision to move to Taiwan with my partner.That’s taken up a lot of time and space, from quarantine in July to looking for a place to live, a place to work and finally, this week, shipping over our elderly cat from Malaysia. In the meantime, I got to finish my second book.

In the light of all these changes, I also came to a decision about Sayoshi.com.  I think it was 2018 that I launched Sayoshi.com, an online directory for practitioners of Japanese acupuncture but I didn’t put in enough time to really make it grow and few of the community that did register made much of their listings. As it was pretty much a solo project, I’ve decided to close this part of it for now and concentrate on other areas concerning Japanese acupuncture (and exploring

One of these projects is Sayoshi Books, a self-publishing imprint devoted to producing books about Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion. 2020
started very well for me with my first book about Ontake Warm Bamboo (and then…pandemic!).Next year, Sayoshi Books will launch my second, the first detailed exploration of Hirata Zone Therapy in English.

In the spring, we have scheduled The String Method, by Felip Caudet, with a foreword by Lorraine Wilcox. Felip’s book explores how to locate
effective points for moxibustion by using proportional measuring with string. Much of this is based on the teachings of Isaburo Fukaya.

Sayoshi Books is not a conventional publishing house—it’s more a guiding process to help JAM-focused authors self-publish. If you’re
interested in self-publishing your next book, do contact me. I hope to share the hard-learned lessons of self-publishing with other like-minded authors.

From next week, visitors to Sayoshi.com will be  redirected to the new Sayoshi page here. In the meantime, The Sayoshi brand will continue with interviews on Japanese acupuncture on YouTube and new books on the imprint. On a personal note, I do feel sadness at closing the directory down. It was a dream of mine for many years but it’s simply not a job for one person. If there are members out there who would contemplate investing in and running the directory, then let me know, and maybe we can get the thing started again. In the meantime, I’d like to thank all our 200 members for your support along the way. I’d like to finish with a Merry Christmas to all – well, at least as merry as it can be given such a dire year. Here’s wishing you all hope and renewal for 2021.

Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion – What’s so Unique?

This article was first published in the European Journal of Oriental Medicine and uses material from an interview on the same subject that I did on Sayoshi TV with Stephen Birch, Junji Mizutani and Brenda Loew. You can see the interview on Youtube and check out the Sayoshi Books menu!)

Oran Kivity is the author of Moxa in Motion – Rhythmic Moxibustion Methods from Japan

The Million to One Chance

Jinan, Shandong, China 1992. Smoky, remote and almost no foreigners. Barring the smoke, exactly, what I was looking for!


I’d been practising for five years and I knew something my patients didn’t know. I wasn’t very good at acupuncture! My solution was to go study some more. All had gone well. I’d found a remote college, that wasn’t swamped with foreign students. I’d found my way there and settled in.

The only fly in the ointment was my publishing career. A few months before my departure I’d taken on an editing project. It was a typed manuscript of a book that had been written in Chinese and translated into what can only be called Chinglish. I had thought that I could edit it in three months or so (more hutzpah?) but I had been wrong. Every single sentence had to be typed into my laptop manually and then rewritten. The cases needed to be reordered to make more sense of them.

So here I was in China, in clinic during the day and struggling to meet my  deadline for Churchill Livingstone, my publisher.

The TCM hospital was a big old place.  There were about five floors  of clinics.with  herbal floors, acupuncture floors, Tuina floors and there were also qigong practitioners working there. The ground floor was a massive reception, dispensary, payment counter and general confusion!

I kept going there during the day and editing the book at night. I started to notice that many of the cases were written by a Dr called Zhang, from Shandong.

In my ward, there were several doctors: a high and mighty professor who didn’t talk to me much. A few doctors and my interpreter and teacher, Dr Mu, a lovely guy.

One day, I showed the typed manuscript to Dr Mu. “This Dr Zhang Deng Bu guy from Shandong..have you ever heard of him? I’m editing the translation of his book.” He looked at me strangely for a second and pointed at the professor, standing ten feet away.

“That’s him, over there!”

It was really quite a coincidence. Almost at random, I’d chose to study in a little known TCM college in China. Equally at random, my publisher had asked me to edit a manuscript translated from a book in Chinese.

Then, out of all the teaching wards that i could have been allocated to, I was placed ten feet from the author or the book I was working on. It was a crazy coincidence.

Professor Zhang and I then spent quite a few hours together clarifying my questions about the book.


1989 and Youthful Folly

Getting into writing was an act of madness. Perhaps conceit. Perhaps when you’re young, you don’t really understand consequences. At any rate, I was like British comedienne Katherine Tate’s character who says, “I can do that!”, when she clearly can’t.

I guess it was around 1989, a year or so after graduating,  I read a review of a French acupuncture book in the Journal of Chinese Medicine. The reviewer praised the book and thought how great it would be if it could be translated into English. And I thought, “I can do that!” and wrote to the publishers.

I had been OK at French at school and I’d gone on to study it at university. But at that time, I was too troubled to continue and I dropped out of my uni after a year. So thinking that a university drop out who hadn’t spoken French in five years could translate a book was really an act of ”hutzpah”. But when you’re young, you take risks! I wrote to the publishers….

To cut a long story short, I got the gig!  I spent a year with a dictionary, badgering a friend who was good at editing and torturing a colleague in my clinic who happened to be French. I kept going,  until the book was done. Without their help, I could never have succeeded.

The reviewer was correct. Acupuncture and Moxibustion: A Guide to Clinical Practice is a brilliant book and i still refer to it today. It has been very influential in the West.

So this madcap project was my springboard into writing, editing and publishing and its success laid the foundations for many of my future projects. So today, I’d like to say thank you to Churchill Livingstone, who trusted me, Ruth and Martine, who helped me and Bernard Auteroche, who inspired me. Milles mercis!