Discover the venues by bike

Film and edited by: Marjolein Roeleveld & thanks to: Philip van der Berg

Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.

5 Minutes with Bill Palmer

When I first saw Bill Palmer, I was intrigued by his charismatic appearance. With our 5-minute interview he made an impression again. His words: “Don’t try to change other people’s energy” resonated in my head during my shiatsu treatments last week. Watch and listen to this European shiatsu pioneer.
Interview: Mark Vroonland & Bill Palmer

Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.

Go see the Doctor

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Martine Busch. She is the co-founder and director of the Van Praag Institute in Utrecht and has an important message for shiatsu therapists:

put some work in your relationship with your clients’ general practitioners (GP’s)!


Because to them, we come from another world. The doctors have insufficient knowledge about what you can achieve with shiatsu and therefore won`t refer to you. Martine builds bridges and explains. Now in a five minute video and at the ESC with an extended version. Positive Health in its most pure form.

Interview: Mark Vroonland & Martine Busch

Martine Busch has an important message for shiatsu therapists: put work into your relationship with the general practitioner (GP’s) of your clients. Why? Just watch this video.

Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.

The Yin and Yang of Amsterdam

I bet you won’t find a single person in the Netherlands who does not know what this picture is….

Text: Daphne Riabokon

Is it a spider web? Is it part of Napoleon’s hat falling down? Is it a Jigsaw puzzle 2.0?

Oh, no, dear friends, what we see is a heart, the Heart. The Heart of Amsterdam. And its meridians.

As I have written before Amsterdam started as a fisherman’s village and it needed to dig canals to create some dry space in the swamps to be able to build their simple houses and start growing vegetables.

Later on as the ‘Amsterdammers’, the locals of Amsterdam, sailed the world, earned outrageous amounts of money on the backs of people far away, they needed bigger canals and started building mansions to show off their riches.

The main canals are the Herengracht (Canal of Lords), Keizersgracht (Canal of the Emperor) and the Prinsengracht (Canal of Princes). They became the gutter of the city! Litter, faeces, all went into the canals. Later we built a cleaning system – sluices that were regularly opened to let fresh water in from the IJ. Nowadays all houses and boathouses are connected to the public sewer system. The water in the canals is controlled daily and we even have an annual swim-event in the city to raise money for ALS (our queen Maxima, at the time still a princess, participated in 2012). Ice skating, when the winters were colder, boat trips, romantic pictures on one of the bridges: 100 km of multifunctional, interconnected pathways with 1500 bridges where Amsterdam’s ki is thriving. All aspects of life, forces, colours are regulated by this ingenious system.

The meridians of Amsterdam.

With the Heart in the middle, our Fire, location for, amongst others, the famous Red Light district. The Triple Heater as a helper of the heart, without form, but pure space. And all the other meridians, you all know them too well.

With all the activity in a city like Amsterdam we are thankful for the Water that is omnipresent to keep the balance. The primary Yin and Yang of Amsterdam.

*Nieuwe Kerk (possible extra venue)

*Amstelveld (with De Duif and Amstelkerk)

*Vondelpark (Vondelkerk)

Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.

Theme Five Element card game

Fancy a round of Five Elements Quartets?

Imagine yourself playing a round of the Five Elements Card Game. Alone, with your clients or with your 8 year old nephew. Having fun while learning. Well, you can!

Only… we need your help to fund the first production of the Five Elements quartet. And to be frank, considering this summer will be a staycation, you’ll probably be able to spare the €24 needed to get the ball rolling. You can expect to receive your set in your mailbox mid-september 2020.

Text: Mark Vroonland | Translation: Maggie Lee

Meet two ESC volunteers: Mark loves to ask questions. Karlijn loves telling about launching the card game. Click here if you prefer the Dutch interview.

Karlijn Eickmans is one of the silent forces organizing the European Shiatsu Congress and in the past, the Shiatsu Proeverij. She is also in the final phase of her shiatsu training at the Zen Shiatsu school in Amsterdam.

Out of passion, and as a graduation project, Karlijn developed the Five Elements Card Game. She now dreams of bringing the game to the market and needs €2,500 to make it a reality. The goal is to sell another 100 games before 1 July 2020. You can help to realize that dream.

I spoke with Karlijn in her Amsterdam home, just after an online do-in lesson from Joyce Vlaarkamp. 

What do the Five Elements mean to you Karlijn?

“Experiencing the Five Elements in my body helps me find balance. It’s an inward language, a kind of gateway. But also, a language to the outside. It’s very accessible. Everyone understands what seasons are: how a tree grows, blossoms, rests and blossoms again.

Next to that. It is my big wish to make shiatsu and TCM more known in Western society. Talking about the five elements is part of this, so I see this card game as a tool to bring shiatsu into people’s home.”

Why did you make the Five Elements card game?

“Learning the Five Elements from a book is fairly difficult. It’s hard to make it come alive. So I figured this is a fun way to make it more visual. The idea arose while having dinner with twelve other shiatsu therapists and it kept coming back to me… It feels like my Tao.”

How do I play the quartets game?

“Well, it’s not actually a quartet, it’s a quintet. In Dutch and German it is named ‘kwartet’, ‘quartett’ or ‘Ablegspiel’, in English the game goes also by ‘quartets’, or ‘Go Fish’ and ‘Happy families’. 

You play it the same as quartets, but now with five cards; each element has its own card within one quintet. In total, the game consists of sixty cards. There are twelve quintets. For example, the seasons, meridians, acupuncture points, organ times, emotions and taste preferences. You can play it on different levels, from newbie to expert, and thus acquire deeper knowledge of the Five Elements.

What a beautiful kimono…

Yes, lovely! The illustrations on each card are hand-painted by Clara Scheibe. You’ll find more of her work on Instagram.
These are test cards, so the final designs will be much nicer, no white border, good quality and it will have a nice luxurious box.

Who do you envision playing Five Elements Quartet?

“It’s designed for shiatsu and TCM therapists, to bring the Five Elements into their everyday life. You can train your own knowledge with it, but it is also an accessible way to start a conversation with a client. For example, if someone has difficulty talking about themselves, about feelings. Moreover, it is super fun to play with your friends. And art lovers will definitely appreciate it: each card is an art piece in itself”.

Okay, I’m sold. What does it cost?

“One game costs €29, but… if you order it before 1 July 2020, it will cost €24. And you will be my hero because you’d make it possible to actually produce the game. If another 100 games are ordered before July, I am safe and we can produce it. We’re halfway there now, so we’re almost there!”

Where can I order it?

“The online presale goes through the crowdfund platform Indiegogo. It works with credit card, Google and Apple Pay. If you are not able to use that, you can also order the card game via PayPal, or Tikkie (Dutch). And don’t forget to send me an email with your postal address.”

What is your biggest wish for the game?

“That every shiatsu and TCM-school include the Five Elements game in its curriculum and shiatsu therapists use it in their practice and daily life.”

And your all-important wish?

Karlijn laughs: “That every household has this game. That it would be normal to talk in the language of the elements: “Add some Water to calm down the Fire” if you talk as much as I do, haha.”

Thank you, Karlijn. I’m looking forward to playing the Five Elements Quartet with you at the European Shiatsu Congress in September!

And to add…

Karlijn still needs €2,500 to realize her dream. With combined shiatsu forces that should work, right? I ordered three copies myself: one to use, two to give as a gift to shiatsu colleagues. What about you? Order here.

If you’re not sure you can spare the change but still want to support this project, you can also consider donating a smaller amount via Indiegogo, PayPal or Tikkie. Please send Karlijn an email when donating, for a ‘thank you surprise’.

Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.

Meanwhile in The Netherlands

As the Covid-19 measures hit our country in the end of March the bird’s feast in my back garden started – a wood pecker, a robin and many great tits that I usually do not see in my small patch of city-green. The morning concerts are twice as loud as usual!

Text: Daphne Riabokon

The peak of the disease was end of April. Now life is slowly starting to loosen up a bit. One can feel it in the streets, children playing, more and more friends having picnics in the parks. But also, alas! more airplanes too that, when the winds blow from a certain direction, fly right over my house and outcry the birds.


Since 11 May we are allowed to give shiatsu treatments. With extra hygiene, hand wash instead of handshakes, many white sheets, health check before every appointment (no running noses, coughs let alone a small fever). Face masks we only use if the client (or therapist) feels more comfortable with one. Face masks are compulsory in public transport. Not in the streets or shops, where people can maintain the one-and-a-half-meter distance.

As from 1 June cafés and restaurants can receive up to 30 guests, reservations beforehand, health check, and, one-and-a-half-meter distance between the tables, likewise for theatres and movie theatres. In one month they hope to increase the numbers of people inside to a maximum of 100.

What about our shiatsu schools?

All of them have started very quickly to move to online lessons in various forms. This was great to keep the contact, keep the Ki flowing. We even have felt some advantages of the online life. Meeting people from farther away in the lessons, even abroad. Having a recording of the lessons afterwards. Some schools are preparing – just in case – for online courses in September, professionalising in this field. But others will start lessons within a few weeks, smaller groups and, again, distance between the mats, fixed practising partners.

Mr. Robin

While I am writing this on my balcony I can see Mr. Robin. He is visiting me again. Robins are sometimes referred to as the symbol of wisdom and patience, but also a spring song and good luck, new beginnings and renewal.


Amsterdam 1st June 2020

Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.

Positive health and shiatsu in relation to corona

Positive health stands for the wider outlook on health where health is not perceived as a static condition but rather as an ability to adapt to physical, emotional and social aspects of life.

Text: Caroline van Oost & Betty Croll | Translation: Katya Shirokaya

It is now exactly the time when we are faced with imposed restrictions due to the coronavirus that calls for our adaptability.

It calls on our resilience to deal with the challenges of the new way of living together.

As shiatsu therapists we have to close our practices and there is a question – for how long?

It is also time for reflection and contemplation about how to shape our shiatsu practice in the future and connect it (even more) to conventional care, where the concept of the Positive Health is taking more space.


Positive Health understands health as a teamwork of six different domains: body functions, mental health, meaningfulness, quality of life, participation and daily functioning.
The focus is not just on the complaint, but also on understanding what goes well.

Shiatsu is based on the connection between people and their environment and has direct or indirect influence on all these domains.

Betty Croll, co-organizer of ESC 2020 and a Shiatsu therapist and acupuncturist, says:

“The ability to adapt to your living environment and to direct the various challenges of life in your own way, is also a focus point of Shiatsu. You support someone to get back in balance in order to take on life in all its forms.
As a Shiatsu therapist, you try to support people in their potential. By allowing the Qi to flow, someone becomes more balanced, and the more you are in balance, the better you can move on and deal with changing situations. Shiatsu also makes people more aware of their potential and limitations and can therefore help to better attune to their choices. What are you doing good? What are you not doing good? You would also make better choices in your social life.

We, as shiatsu therapists, now have to rely on our resilience to survive in these times of Corona. Move along with what is and have trust in what is to come.”

Resilience is now expected from all of us. At all levels. It is a gentle yet very firm force. We wish you also a lot of strength and wisdom. And good health to you and your loved ones.

Want to know more about Positive Health? Visit

Amsterdam has a lot to offer: music, theatre and bikes

I can assure you that Amsterdam looks like a stage set when you bike or walk from one venue to another. Not only because of its beauty, but also because there’s no time to look behind the romantic facades.
So…why not stay a little longer and take time to digest the inspiration, knowledge, and new friendships after a three day feast of Shiatsu. Alone.
Or bring your partner and children. Amsterdam has plenty to see and do.
Here’s some practical information and ideas for how to spend a short break in Amsterdam.

Text: Daphne Riabokon

Public Transport Chip Card

We use rechargeable cards for all public transport in the Netherlands.

Cycling in Amsterdam

Where to rent a bike

Arts, culture and entertainment 

For basic information about cultural activities visit  and read about things to do, entertainment, theatres, and music. 
If you want to know where to have dinner, where to find a special shop or where to go out, take a look at Here you’ll find the best things to do in Amsterdam, good restaurants and an overview of all the festivals and other events in the city.   

Music concerts  

The main concert venues are Paradiso and Melkweg, and for the really big concerts the Heineken Music Hall and theZiggo Dome. There’s an endlessly wide range of small stages and clubs throughout the city, such as BitterzoetDwaze Zaken, Club 8, Trouw, Canvas, Westergashuisfabriek, Studio K, and more alternative places such as OT301. Music lovers: look in at the Concerto store (Utrechtsestraat 60) for an amazing collection of new and second hand music, CDs and vinyl, in all possible styles.  

Classical music, opera, jazz and dance  

The main venues are the MuziektheaterMuziekgebouw aan ‘t IJBimhuis and the Concertgebouw 


All films in cinemas are shown in the original language with subtitles in Dutch. You can find listings of all films and cinemas at The main cinemas are Pathé Tuschinksy (amazing Art Deco style building, Reguliersbreestraat 26-34), Rialto (Ceintuurbaan 338), The Movies (Haarlemmerdijk 161), De Filmhallen (Kinkerstraat), De Uitkijk (Prinsengracht 452), Het Ketelhuis (inside Westergasfabriek, Westerpark). Also interesting are Kriterion (Roetersstraat 170) and Studio K (Timorplein 62) as well as bars and cinemas run by students that regularly organize special events.  


The main theatres are Carré (Amstel 115-125), the Stadsschouwburg (Leidseplein) and De Kleine Komedie (Amstel 56-58). Smaller, alternative theatres such as De Brakke Grond and Engelenbak are situated in Nes, a narrow street off the Dam Square.  

For information and tickets: 
Ticketshop at Leidseplein/corner of Marnixstraat. 

Check their website for daily offers: 


Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.

Go there and stay

In our Shiatsu school we have a kind of mantra: “Go there and stay!” It means something like: feel what you are feeling in your body, do not try to change it, just land there and stay there as long as it takes.

Walking around in our lives during the Corona crisis is a good time to practice this. So many painful emotions are rising. How to be with that?

Text by Jaana Siltasalmi | Translation: Maggie Lee


“Go there and stay”. 4 words. And each of them is a challenge.

“Go” does not mean to go somewhere where you are not. Go means here: look at what you are doing in order to NOT feel what you are feeling.

These past days, with these intense Corona emotions, I realise that the things I believe to be my strengths are also the same things that keep me from feeling what I feel. For example: “Just Going On”. That is my strength, it has taken me far in life. But Just Going On keeps me also from feeling my feelings. I rather just go on…

That is how it often works. Those inner qualities which normally help us to get where we want to go and to be the person we want to be, also help us not to be where we are when things get nasty. Maybe you recognize it. If your strength is: Take Action, or Make Connection, or Take Care of Others. Does it also prevent you from being where you are?

“Go” means to see this pattern. To see what keeps you from being where you are and feeling what you feel.


The next challenge is “There”. Go there where you feel it in your body. Go there, feel it and make room for whatever is there.

It is easy when you are feeling well. But when there is pain or a painful emotion it is not so easy. Going there means then that you need to go there where you in all costs do not normally want to go. The darkness. The shadow. You rather keep yourself out of there. That is the most normal reaction. The challenge is: just do it. Go there.

Boy this sounds easy. And boy it is difficult! It feels like there are thick walls around “there”. Like I bounce back every time I get near “there”. I want to be everywhere but there.


“And” is my favourite challenge. And is the and of the eastern philosophy, the paradox of the truth.

It is the paradox of staying where you are even when that where you are is not being able to stay where you are. It is the paradox of wanting and not wanting. If you have pain it is natural that you want it to go away. But if you stay by the pain because you want it to go away, it will not go away. If you stay there just to stay there, without any agenda, just giving it room, it often does go away. Or not. It matters and it does not matter. It is easy and impossible at the same time.


And then the last challenge: “Stay”.

If you have landed where you are, without any agenda. And it is very uncomfortable, or even when it is not so uncomfortable. How to stay?

A simple way to help yourself with this is to make small movements. Feel what you are feeling in your body and move with it. Another one is, give it words. Stay where you are and describe it as precisely as possible. What do you feel? And what lies underneath it?

Whatever you do, however you do it, take your time! Go there and stay! And be ready for anything that opens up.

Be well! Stay strong! And let your heart be touched with all the emotions that are arising!

Curious about Jaana Siltasalmi? Visit her workshop Touch of The 5 Elements at the ESC 2020.

Read more in this full article.

Positive Health is HOT

Positive Health, the main topic of this year’s congress, is HOT in the Netherlands. This opens opportunities for shiatsu practitioners, as indeed, there are many correlations with the holistic, TCM vision of health.

Text: Caroline van Oost | Translation: Adeline Kuiken | Photo: Skitterphoto

Positive health is becoming part of the agenda at an increasing number of healthcare institutions in the Netherlands. Several Dutch municipalities are treating this as a pre-condition for organizations to be eligible for municipal subsidies. More and more GPs are also getting enthusiastic. And that is not without reason. They see by experience: when talking to the patient from the perspective of Positive Health, they refer fewer patients to specialist care. It means that it has a preventive effect, just like shiatsu.

What is Positive Health?

Positive health is a wider perspective on health through six dimensions, which affect someone’s well-being.
These dimensions are body functions, mental health, meaningfulness, quality of life, participation and daily functioning.
The deeper meaning here is that people are not just their condition, but the environment which impacted their health through all these dimensions.
However, in conventional medicine, the attention is paid mostly to the complaints and health problems and the way these can be addressed.
Positive Health provides the other perspective, where the focus is not on the sickness, but on the people themselves, their adaptability and what makes their life meaningful.

Other perspectives

The institute of Positive Health (IPH) trains professionals to take a different approach to the conversations with people (clients).
To support this, a questionnaire has been developed, where people can indicate, by dimension, how satisfied or unsatisfied they are, and on which aspect they prefer to work on.
This ignites completely different conversations when a caregiver is enquiring about complaints.  
This is what one coach says about his experience with filling in the spider web with a client.

The client scored low on mental health but indicated a preference to work on meaningfulness.
This was a contradiction to the expectations of the coach, who thought that they were going to work on the mental health. However, working on meaningfulness, all the other five dimensions slightly changed.

For shiatsu practitioners know, everything is interdependent.

Common ground

Positive Health is adopted by more and more organizations and is not only client oriented. 
It is also used as a HR tool to promote the well-being of the employees and as a connector between different disciplines and policies.
That’s why the common ground should be adopted.  

How can shiatsu contribute?

As shiatsu practitioners, we know, as no one else, how different internal and external factors can influence the health condition of a person. Isn’t it fantastic news that more and more attention is being paid to holistic health within the conventional medicine? This is where we see opportunities for integration of both conventional and alternative medicine.

Joint effort

It is, therefore, time to follow these developments in joint effort, to continue working on setting the common ground. Now, shiatsu is no longer a small alternative brother (or sister), but is an equal partner.

I am looking forward to connect with colleagues representing conventional and alternative medicine during the European Shiatsu Congress to explore the possibilities of further integration.

Everyone will benefit from this.

Caroline van Oost owns a private practice in Tilburg and at the same time is working as a project manager at GGD West-Brabant (Municipal healthcare institution). One of her interest areas is Positive Health.   

Still no ticket? Order here.

Check the programme


Let's celebrate shiatsu together

buy tickets

What is shiatsu…for you?

add your feelings
Read in your own language

The ESC happens every third year. The main goal: Exchange, inspiration and communication to support and develop the situation of Shiatsu in Europe.

Subscribe to our mailing list
European Shiatsu Congress
Lutmastraat 182
The Netherlands
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google