Biography

ON A JOURNEY

Taking new paths …
Taking new paths, overcoming existing boundaries and building bridges between what appears incompatible – these are the elements determining Tomas Nelissen’s life. What others barely dare dream about – he does it, thus inspiring countless people. In this context, healing and teaching are the two big topics providing the common theme in his life.
1970 to 1974 – A Revolutionary in Holland
At the age of 20 Tomas Nelissen develops new forms of therapy for people with special needs. For four years he lives and works with physicians, psychologists and 15 adolescents with special needs on a farm in Holland: ‘In the seventies of the 20th century our approach was indeed revolutionary – for months we filled the front pages of Dutch newspapers.’ But eventually the skeptics gain the upper hand and the project is terminated.
1974 to 1978 – Learning in Japan
From Masanobu Fukuoka – a pioneer of permaculture whose book ‘One-Straw Revolution’ gained him worldwide recognition – Tomas Nelissen learns everything about organic farming. This is not a purely theoretical process, but learning by living, for two years, the life of a Japanese peasant, sleeping in a windowless mud hut and tilling the fields without the help of pesticides, fertilizers or machinery: ‘This simple existence in accord with nature has changed me forever: I experienced the meaning of harmony and how it feels to be at peace with oneself and the world.’
As one of only a few Europeans he then studied directly with Dr. Shizuto Masunaga, who developed Meridian-Shiatsu, in Tokyo. In the mid-sixties, Masunaga developed a style of Shiatsu characterized by the so-called two-hands technique and stable pressure. Tomas is able to experience first-hand how this kind of Shiatsu feels. Immediately prior to his departure for Japan he sustained a severe knee injury which Masunaga treats almost every day during Tomas’ training: ‘With his big hands he looked again and again for deep-seated Kyo, and he didn’t hesitate to go beyond the pain threshold.
The intense experience of his treatments on my own body allowed me to gain direct access to Masunaga’s Shiatsu: I felt his fire, and his power will be etched in my memory for ever.’
Since 1979 – Success back at home
Back in Holland, Tomas, who was by now 33 years old, bought an agricultural holding of 32 hectares, where he produced seitan and tempeh, and where, besides grains, he grows 20 different types of vegetables he has brought back from Japan. At the same time he develops his own style of Shiatsu, and in 1980 founded Iokai, his first Shiatsu School. Within only a short period of time the school becomes so successful that he asks his friend Kasunori Sasaki from Japan for support.
Since the 1980s – an internationally sought-after Shiatsu pioneer
Tomas Nelissen teaches not only in Holland, but also in the USA, in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
1989 to 2017 – Director of the Hara Shiatsu Institute
Tomas Nelissen founds the Hara Shiatsu Institute in Vienna and is its director until 2017. The model he develops for the 3-year part-time training course informs the curriculum to this day, with students graduating as well-rounded practitioners. To date more than1500 students have successfully completed the training program.
In 1993 Tomas Nelissen once again enters new territory when his school begins to collaborate with hospitals and clinical institutions. By 2017 more than 50,000 treatments were given in the areas of gynecology, geriatrics, rehabilitation, pediatrics and burn-out prevention: ‘I wanted to find out if the Shiatsu toolkit would be able to correct even truly extreme conditions. We were able to significantly improve the condition of 70 per cent of clients. This high success rate once again proved the enormous potential of Hara Shiatsu.’
Taking new paths, overcoming existing boundaries and building bridges between what appears incompatible – these are the elements determining Tomas Nelissen’s life. What others barely dare dream about – he does it, thus inspiring countless people. In this context, healing and teaching are the two big topics providing the common theme in his life.
1970 to 1974 – A Revolutionary in Holland
At the age of 20 Tomas Nelissen develops new forms of therapy for people with special needs. For four years he lives and works with physicians, psychologists and 15 adolescents with special needs on a farm in Holland: ‘In the seventies of the 20th century our approach was indeed revolutionary – for months we filled the front pages of Dutch newspapers.’ But eventually the skeptics gain the upper hand and the project is terminated.
1974 to 1978 – Learning in Japan
From Masanobu Fukuoka – a pioneer of permaculture whose book ‘One-Straw Revolution’ gained him worldwide recognition – Tomas Nelissen learns everything about organic farming. This is not a purely theoretical process, but learning by living, for two years, the life of a Japanese peasant, sleeping in a windowless mud hut and tilling the fields without the help of pesticides, fertilizers or machinery: ‘This simple existence in accord with nature has changed me forever: I experienced the meaning of harmony and how it feels to be at peace with oneself and the world.’
As one of only a few Europeans he then studied directly with Dr. Shizuto Masunaga, who developed Meridian-Shiatsu, in Tokyo. In the mid-sixties, Masunaga developed a style of Shiatsu characterized by the so-called two-hands technique and stable pressure. Tomas is able to experience first-hand how this kind of Shiatsu feels. Immediately prior to his departure for Japan he sustained a severe knee injury which Masunaga treats almost every day during Tomas’ training: ‘With his big hands he looked again and again for deep-seated Kyo, and he didn’t hesitate to go beyond the pain threshold. The intense experience of his treatments on my own body allowed me to gain direct access to Masunaga’s Shiatsu: I felt his fire, and his power will be etched in my memory for ever.’
Since 1979 – Success back at home
Back in Holland, Tomas, who was by now 33 years old, bought an agricultural holding of 32 hectares, where he produced seitan and tempeh, and where, besides grains, he grows 20 different types of vegetables he has brought back from Japan. At the same time he develops his own style of Shiatsu, and in 1980 founded Iokai, his first Shiatsu School. Within only a short period of time the school becomes so successful that he asks his friend Kasunori Sasaki from Japan for support.
Since the 1980s – an internationally sought-after Shiatsu pioneer
Tomas Nelissen teaches not only in Holland, but also in the USA, in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
1989 to 2017 – Director of the Hara Shiatsu Institute
Tomas Nelissen founds the Hara Shiatsu Institute in Vienna and is its director until 2017. The model he develops for the 3-year part-time training course informs the curriculum to this day, with students graduating as well-rounded practitioners. To date more than1500 students have successfully completed the training program.
In 1993 Tomas Nelissen once again enters new territory when his school begins to collaborate with hospitals and clinical institutions. By 2017 more than 50,000 treatments were given in the areas of gynecology, geriatrics, rehabilitation, pediatrics and burn-out prevention: ‘I wanted to find out if the Shiatsu toolkit would be able to correct even truly extreme conditions. We were able to significantly improve the condition of 70 per cent of clients. This high success rate once again proved the enormous potential of Hara Shiatsu.’

More than 1,500 students and 30 teachers have graduated from
the Hara Shiatsu Academy.

Tomas Nelissen: Founder of the International Academy for Hara Shiatsu, Vienna

More than 1,500 students and 30 teachers have graduated from
the Hara Shiatsu Academy.

Tomas Nelissen: Founder of the International Academy for Hara Shiatsu, Vienna