If you really want the best shiatsu massage chair you’re going to have to spend upwards of $1,800 and you’ll be looking at buying Japanese. If you don’t where to start looking, here are some recommendations of the very best models on offer.

But why Japanese? The answer is simple. The Japanese market is the most competitive and the Japanese take massage chairs very seriously; 22% of the population is reported as owning one. In order to even survive in this market place manufacturers have to offer their customers the best quality with the best technical features at a competitive price. As a result, Japanese massage chairs are simply the world’s best.

Another thing you should know is that there’s no such thing as a cheap shiatsu massage chair. Shiatsu is applying pressure using fingers, thumbs and palms on energetic pathways, called meridians. The applied pressure has to be precise or you aren’t getting the correct massage. You can’t expect to lie back in a conventional chair and get a shiatsu massage. The chair has to be intelligent enough to be able to detect your body shape and to adjust the rollers automatically to align correctly along your neck and spine. Some manufacturers claim you can manually move the rollers to your desired position. This is true, but are you a massage expert? Would you really know where to place the rollers?

A good quality shiatsu massage chair is the Fujikura, which retails for around $1,800. It comes with an intelligent roller system that moves the rollers to conform to the shape of your back. It isn’t the best technology on offer (read about optical sensors below) but it’s okay and the Fujikura chair gives a pretty good massage. What’s really nice about this chair is the foot and calf massager (20 air bags are incorporated in it) and it also has arm massagers. As an added bonus it comes with a music system so you can listen to your music as you lie back and enjoy the massage.

But if you really want the best in technology – and therefore the best shiatsu massager – you should take a look at two manufacturers that use optical sensors. Both OSIM and Inada use infrared scanning before each massage to determine your exact body shape. The system glides along your spine, taking note of your exact measurements to pinpoint your acupressure points and then automatically adjusts the chair to fit you perfectly.

The Inada i.2 Massage Chair (HCP-i.2A) retails for around $3,300. It’s a very stylish looking chair and comes complete with a top quality foot massager. There’s no arm massager; you’d have to upgrade to the OSIM iDesire Massage Chair costing around $4,500 to get this feature plus lots more. What you do get are 8 Health care programs, a Reflexology Map that uses extrusions to press on vital reflex points on your soles, and air bags that are strategically placed to exert firm lateral pressure at the outer buttocks and upper thigh muscles.

The OSIM iSymphonic Massage Chair retails for around $3,500 and really is a technically advance piece of furniture. Like the Inada massage chair, it uses optical sensors to make the chair exactly fit your body. But, it also has a music therapy system that is incredible. Basically, the music determines what type of massage you get. If you play trance or techno, you’re going to get a pounding, but if you play quiet, melodious music, the chair will automatically give you a softer, gentler massage. The company has just recently upgraded the chair to make it audio/visual, so you can now watch something of your choosing while being massaged.

If you really want a genuine shiatsu massage chair then buy Japanese and be prepared to spend around $2,000 upwards. But the best advice is to go out and actually try out these chairs so you can be sure you get one that is just right for you.

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