A Japanese massage chair (also referred to as a shiatsu massage chair) has the power to bring therapeutic massage and deep relaxation into the comfort of your home. Shiatsu massage chairs are said to have more functions than a traditional chair, since they focus more on whole body healing and aligning what is called ‘Chi’. According to Japanese medicine and tradition, keeping your ‘Chi’, or energy, aligned is essential for overall body health.
Some even say that these chairs can help heal physical problems like stiffness and sore muscles, in addition to mental afflictions like anxiety and depression. You can read more here about the ways that a shiatsu massage chair can benefit you and how they differ from a traditional massage chair.
The 5 Best Japanese (Shiatsu) Massage Chairs:
Here is our list of the 5 best Japanese massage chairs you can currently purchase online and have delivered directly to your home.
The first thing that sets this chair apart is its extra-long track that runs from the shoulders of your upper body to your hamstrings. The industry average for an S-shaped chair is just 29” in length, but by using a unique L-shaped track, this chair has 49” of length. After you sit down and turn the chair on, you will notice that it scans your back so the massage track can be activated according to the unique curvature of your spine. This provides a one-of-a-kind massaging experience.
One special feature of this chair is the specialized heat therapy, which is located in the lumbar area of the chair. Another cool feature is the Bluetooth, which lets you easily and clearly hear audiobooks, music, or whatever else you may want to listen to while you relax. It connects to iPhones and Androids.
Two other notable included features are the rocking rotation, which gently rocks to simulate the relaxing feeling of a traditional rocking chair and the reclining function that lets you position yourself to maximum comfort while relaxing. Additionally, this Japanese massage chair has a zero gravity function, to support your weight while you are lying at a 30 degree angle. The weightlessness paired with the massage experience will leave you feeling completely satisfied.
There are two minor downsides of this chair. First, if you are lighter (around 140 pounds or less) the foot massage function may not work as well as it does for heavier people. Second, the Bluetooth feature does not always connect immediately and may take several tries. It can also be confusing to set up for some people, because there are no instructions for the Bluetooth in the manual. Finally, the chair is a little pricy, costing around $8,000. In addition to the price, the warranty is only 3 years for parts and 1 year for labor.
This massage chair comes at a much lower cost than the previous model, running just under $5,000. The key unique feature of this is its 4D massaging function. At the bottom is a basic massage robot that can only move up and down and from left to right. A 3D robot adds a second plane to this movement. A 4D robot, by contrast, lets the massaging robot change pressure and rhythm during the process so the massage feels much more humanlike.
Another cool feature is the Bluetooth and music syncing systems. You can play music through the chair using an MP3 player, tablet, or phone. This plays through the chair’s speakers, which are located nearby your ears. Once you have music ready to go, you can also choose the function on your chair called “Music.” This function syncs the rhythm of the massage to the rhythm of the music you are listening to. Another technological feature is the ability to store three different user profiles on the chair, so you do not need to change the settings each time you sit down to relax. If you do want to though, there is also an 11-point auto body scan that detects the curvatures of your body for a personalized experience. This massage chair also features a recline function and arms that recline, as well as heated back pad and foot rests. You can easily change the functions of the chair with the finger-tip and manual controls or you can choose from 11 auto courses.
This chair is sturdy, fairly priced, and will give you the shiatsu massage of a lifetime. With all its features and its proper functioning, there is not a single disadvantage to purchasing this chair. This is backed with a 3-year, all-inclusive warranty.
The major selling point of this massage chair is its incredibly broad massage coverage. To date, it covers the largest area of your body during massage (more than 1,200 square inches) when compared against other chairs. It cradles your entire body, meaning you can get an authentic shiatsu feeling wherever you set it up.
What makes this chair incredible is the attention to detail that had to be put into this chair for the robotic function to be so humanlike while massaging. Much research was done to come up with the eight programmed settings for this chair, each of them with a different healthcare in mind. There are even programs featured for a day (invigorating) and night (relaxing) Japanese massage. To create the incredible massaging feeling of this chair, a gentle ‘8’ motion is used to balance the body as a masseuse would to balance chi. Additionally, the chair comes with a unique stretching function, designed to help flex, extend, and gently rotate areas like the shoulders, hips, and mid-back.
Another cool feature is the setting for a ‘youth session’. This is designed so that younger users (those over the age of 14) can use the chair safely. It offers a gentler session that the typical massage designed for the adolescent body, so any teens can reap the benefits of the chair as well. The hand massager on this chair is also a welcome feature.
The spinal massages offered by this chair are great. However, the major downside is that the massage is a little too subtle for some people’s tastes. Consider what you want from a chair most (therapeutic or relaxing) before making your purchase.
This is so far the most affordable on this list, costing under $3,000. Though it is affordable, it does not come without plenty of great features. The type of Japanese massage offered with this chair is known as Junetsu, which is an ultra-fine, kneading technique. When does by a massage therapist, this technique is created by making small circles with their thumbs. It is capable of massaging your whole body, with 36 air bags that help create the massaging functions, positioned to touch areas including your behind and hamstring, arm and hand, calves, soles of feat, shoulder, and waist. Functions can be relaxing by using the soothing grasp function, but more stimulating by using the closed fist function.
This chair does recline, all the way back to 170 degrees. The programming of this chair is also great. It offers settings like a 5-minute refresher massage and an auto body scanning system. You can create your own massage with its customizable settings. This Japanese massage chair does come with five pre-set settings, but you can also create eight of your own. Additionally, there is a 4-person memory within this chair that allows each person to choose six different programs for themselves. This lets you quickly and conveniently customize your massage, without needing to re-program the chair every time.
There is only one minor flaw in this chair. If you are not tall enough, then you cannot experience a shoulder/upper arm massage.
This chair is priced very fairly for a zero gravity model. It reclines fully back to take all the pressure of your muscles and joints. Then, a 3-D body scan that examines 11 pressure points decides what the best alignment is to suit your body shape. Then, the 3D massaging effect is created using powerful rollers that will reach down and massage where you need it the most.
This chair feels incredibly similar to a traditional Shiatsu massage performed by a masseuse. It features a deep tissue massage function, that gets deep down into your muscles to remove any tension or pain. In addition to the well-placed rollers, this chair features air bags for all the body, from the top of the head down to the foot rollers.
Another cool feature of this chair is the ‘mood’ lighting. When you turn on the chair, it reflects a colored LED light. During a night massage, you can enjoy this lighting as you relax. This massage chair is also capable of twisting/stretching the hip, back, and shoulders, as well as extending the feet and legs. This chair comes with a 3-year warranty.
This chair has great features, making it a fairly priced and comfortable addition to any home.
Buying Guide for Japanese Massage Chairs
To find the best Shiatsu massage chair, it is essential that you know what to look for before making your purchase. After all, you do not want to spend money on the best only to find out that it cannot deliver. Here are some of the most important elements of a great massage chair.
Shiatsu is a word made of two Japanese words; ‘shi’ (finger) and ‘atsu’ (pressure). The idea is that the chair should provide the same experience. To mimic this, there should be more than one massage function available. Quality Japanese massage chairs will mimic the rolling, kneading, and tapping sensations that you would expect from a shiatsu massage. A quality chair will also emulate compression, which feels as if someone is placing pressure on either side of your spine and back.
Power and Modes
The power of the massage chair will ultimately determine how much you will feel the massage. Ideally, choose a chair that has more than one power setting, so you can adjust to your preference per session. The modes describe the different functions discussed previously, but also the speed and strength at which the functions are performed.
The Chair Itself
Some shiatsu chairs (usually those on the lower price end) focus only on the back, shoulders, and neck. These are known as Ottoman massage chairs. While this may be a good investment if you are on a budget or if these are your only problem areas, a full body chair will give you the same experience as a full body massage. Something else to consider is if you want your chair to recline and to what degree. Some chairs do not recline at all, while others offer a full range of movement. Zero Gravity chairs mimic the position that astronauts lie in when they go to space. This allows them to relieve the pressure from the back and joints by completely supporting your body. This video will show you how a Zero Gravity chair works.
Something to note, however, is that Zero Gravity massage chairs are among the most expensive. You can also choose a heating function if you would like. Finally, consider the upholstery. Leather and synthetic materials are used, but synthetic materials are more common on higher end chairs to outlast the wear and tear from heating and movement.
Japanese massage chairs are usually a pricy purchase, especially if you choose a higher end chair with better features for maximum comfort. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a company’s product, they should be willing to back the purchase up with a decent warranty. Always remember to compare warranties before you make your final purchase decision.
The best Japanese shiatsu massage chair should leave your body feeling incredible after every sitting session. For its features, fair price, and quality of massage, the greatest chair from this list is:
This chair was chosen because it has the best high-quality features for a fair price. It offers heating in key areas, the ability to sync music (and rhythm) to your chair and your massage, several functions, a body scanning system, and incredible 4D massage, just to name some of its incredible features. If you can live without the zero gravity function of a chair, this will be the perfect addition to your home. Your mind and body will thank you.