Acupuncture has always fascinated me. The thought of all these points in your body being affected by needles is rather interesting. Check for more scientific information here: acupuncture

So being miserably pregnant, I thought I would solicit some help in finding relief. Luckily, a faithful reader, Nicole Ingraham has shared her experiences with acupuncture. Thanks, Nicole!

Above are photos to the clinic: Leave gate 2 Kadena, head towards China Pete’s (picture 1). You will turn on your second left, after China Pete’s. You may see the little sign (see above). If not, the front door (second picture) is the entrance to his office, left side. I parked right in front and slid the door open.

1. How did you find out about the clinic?
I called Lester OB to find out if they knew of anyplace- someone there told me about it. They of course cautioned me that that didn’t mean they were recommending it, since they can’t do that.

2. What was your problem?
I had severe siatic nerve pain due to pregnancy-I was somewhere around 20 weeks along. I could barely walk some days-actually fell once getting out of bed b/c my leg collapsed underneath me. The docs at Lester could offer no help, so I got desperate!

3. What was the initial visit like?
I stopped by first to check it out-spoke to the acupuncturist. Told him the problem, asked about prices.
I then called and made an appt. I kind of just had to trust that he knew what he was doing and would do a good job. He did not explain what he was doing as he did it-I just had to go with the flow. (I also didn’t ask him to explain, so maybe he would have).

His office is very small-the treatment area has two beds, but I was the only one there. He was very professional and matter of fact-I had needles inserted into my upper butt area, so I was a little exposed but didn’t feel uncomfortable at all.

Although I did not ask about sterility practices, I did notice that he had an autoclave and the proper equipment for sterilizing. He also is a member (according to a plaque) of something along the lines of an official Japanese acupuncture society (I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it was in English). The clinic is very neat and clean. He has linens that cover the table where you lay and he puts fresh ones for each person (I’m guessing, due to the stack of nice, folded (clean?) linens and basket of (dirty??) crumpled linens). He also washed his hands each time before doing any “procedure” on me-so he observed good hygiene practices!

4. What did it feel like?
He first kind of pressed on the areas where the needles were going to go into-not sure what the effect of this is. Maybe to determine the best points for insertion??

Then he swabbed the insertion areas with alcohol, washed his hands and then got to inserting the needles.

Inserting the needles didn’t hurt at all, with the exception of one inserted in the bony part of my ankle-that pinched a bit, but nothing I would consider actual pain. I had several needles inserted in my hip area, upper buttock, mid-hamstring, back of the knee and ankle. After insertion, I laid on the table for probably about 10-15 minutes, though I can’t be sure of the time. I swore I felt a slight tingling sensation all over that side of my body (well, hip down) but I don’t know for sure.

After the inital time, the needles were removed. He then tapped with something (another needle??) in the same general areas. I had some minor discomfort in a few areas-which corresponded with the areas that hurt the most.

He applied some sort of heat treatment after that with a wand-like device. The heat was a direct application to the skin, at the insertion sites (or thereabouts). Again, no real pain, although the heat was on me long enough that a few seconds longer and it would have turned to pain. He seemed to know exactly how long the heat would be tolerated and took it off just before the point of it hurting.

Then he lit something with a lighter-maybe some sort of incense?? I honestly have no idea-it smelled like incense, so that’s my best guess. Whatever it was that was lit was placed against my skin, again at the insertion areas. This was kind of pressed in with some decent pressure. Again, no actual pain-though it was mildly uncomfortable due the heat. It seemed to be most uncomfortable at the areas that corresponded to the most pain.

Then I was good to go!

(I laid on my stomach the whole time, so I couldn’t really see what he was doing).

5. How long did it take?
a little over a half hour

6. Cost?
3000 yen (as far as I know, no dollars accepted) for the first time, and then it was 2500 for the subsequent visits. He doesn’t have you fill anything out-paperwork wise, I guess he just has a good memory!
His hours are 9-6 M-F.

7. English spoken?
yes, enough to explain/show what the problem was. I also asked when he used the heat wand what it was and he was able to explain it to me. I have no idea if he spoke enough English to be conversational, but he also didn’t seem like a conversationalist sort of man.

8. Was this your first acupuncture?
yes, this was the first time ever. I got relief from the very first session-not much immediately, but as the day wore on, I noticed the pain lessening (whereas usually, it got worse as the day went on). I went back a week later. He recommended 3-4 treatments, 1 week apart, but I only got in 2 (childcare issues). I felt nearly 100% after the 2nd treatment. I was able to go back to my regular fitness routine (I go to One Moore Rep) without any problems, able to walk around, get off the couch without looking like I was 90….

I went back several weeks later (as I had a bit more pain again as the pregnancy progressed). He also helped with the neck pain/shoulder pain I had developed due to sleeping on my side (gotta love pregnancy).

8. Anything you would recommend to a reader who is thinking about going?

My only regret is not going sooner-I suffered for way too long! I think acupuncture is recommended to help with many, many problems…migraines, other pregnancy related issues (nausea, etc), I’ve even heard it helps with infertility (but who knows!).

9. Any other details you want to add:                                                                                            My 2nd and 3rd visits were a bit shorter-right at 30 mins. No heat wand that time. Also, on the third, I got teeny, tiny little needles on a band-aid type thing that I kept on for 3 days and removed.
I will definitely return for any other issues in the future.

So readers, have you tried acupuncture or any other ancient form of relief? Do tell.


  1. I’ve tried acupuncture and have to say the results do vary, sometimes you can have a bad session and end up swollen for weeks. 🙁 For those who want a less invasive healing alternative, I suggest looking into Reiki.
    I started going to help with my hypothyroidism..
    Luck for me, I found an awesome private studio here in Okinawa near Kadena where they do private sessions!!!
    Visit http://www.universalreikihealing.com or call 090-6863-8914 to book a session. I went back a couple of times and the practitioner is wonderful!
    She really takes her time and makes sure you are comfortable, I wake up feeling refreshed and less lethargic throughout the week.

  2. I visited this place three time for help with my PCOS and infertility. I cannot remember his name but he is really friendly and reasonably priced. For the first time in over 6 years I had positive results and all with acupuncture and no medication! If you are on the fence about trying don’t hesitate this is the place for you!

  3. I was really hesitant to try acupuncture and now I am thankful I went. Although, I’m unsure of his name, I highly recommend this place. He is very polite and reasonably priced. I left satisfied with my treatment after only 3 sessions. I plan to start going back soon for back pain.

  4. I’ve also used an acupuncturist located off Gate 2 St. From Kadena go down Gate 2 St toward Rt 330, cross over Rt 330, go past the street for the Okinawa City Office, go past one light and right across the street from the Koza Middle School on the left is a condo. The condo is only about 1-2 minutes from Rt 330. Dr Shuji SAKAI’s condo is on the left (it looks like a new condo). He is room #203. I’ve shown up, buzzed him and made an appointment or you can call. He speaks good English. His phone number is 098-938-1630. First visit is 3000 yen and from the second time on it’s only 2500 yen. He does a great job with acupuncture & massage.

  5. I made an appointment for tomorrow at 3, I have similar problems (without the pregnancy) but after 3 children…15, 13, 10…I can relate! My new Doc turned me on to him. Wish me luck!

  6. Becky, I posted an answer yesterday but it didn’t go through. Anyhow, treatment will vary depending upon the issue. I have had great success with neck and back injuries in just a few treatments. I still go for a chronic illness to help with the symptoms and it has helped immensely. The Dr. (Urasaki-san) will not give useless treatments.

  7. Becky-
    Directions to urusaki-san’s office.
    Go out gate 2, go through the four corners intersection, you will pass the japanese police headquarters on your right. At the third light, take a left. At the flashing yellow caution light, take a right. His office will be on the left, about 25 meters. A sign in English says Acupuncture and parking is underneath his office. I have an appointment on Tuesday early morn if you want me to show you.

  8. There is another acupuncturist near Gate 2. He speaks English and each person has their personal needles. He has done wonders for me, my family and friends. Dr’s name is Urasaki-san. Tel 939-8551 He speaks English. Closed Sun and Mon. first visit is Y4000 any additional visits are Y3000.

  9. Dear Eileen,

    Thank You for Your kindness. I have edited about 3 dozen MD’s papers on island and have a reasonably good feel for what is what in the civilian sector of health-care on the island.

    If I can ever reciprocate Your kindness, please do NOT hesitate to contact me.

    Your friend,


    PS – I DO have some knowledge of cancer modalities and have helped some conquer this, once thought to be, unconquerable blight. Please call on me ANY TIME, I can be of assistance.

  10. Thanks for the prompt response, EL — it is greatly appreciated, however, we live in Naha, and my wife has undergone Japanese acupuncture, and it doesn’t seem to be effective, so actually I am looking for a Chinese acupuncturist.

    In any case, I am grateful to You and Okinawa-Hai, as life as a civilian expat is VERY frustrating with few resources or places to seek help/information.

    Appreciatively yours,


  11. The chiropractor on 23 across from AU (closer to 58 than gate 2) does acupuncture; japanese acupuncture. Japanese uses thinner needles (if you can imagine) and I never even felt them go in; chinese needles I’ve felt and they’re kind of uncomfortable…not bad, but noticeable and you feel them if you move while they’re in. I’ve used acupuncture for lower back, anxiety, sinuses (burned the incense for that too) and periods (regulation) — oh, and most recently TMJ (so bad after dental work I was downing 800motrin followed by 800 tylenol three hrs later for about two weeks; other option according to the dentist was a root canal…no indication for it, just the pain after a filling) Try it – it’s almost better than a massage b/c the feeling lingers after you leave whereas a massage is over when it’s over

  12. Thanks for this wonderful information! I am a true believer in the results of acupuncture. I had many treatments during my pregnancy with my second child and the results were amazing. It’s also such a relaxing form of therapy. I would often fall asleep during treatments. And yes, acupuncture can work miracles with infertility. Far cheaper and less invasive than other methods.

    Thank you again, Nicole