First drafted by, a Japanese man named Isamu Masuda in the 1970s, these five pillars encompass all you need to live a healthy, happy and sound life. According to Masuda, they are:
1. Properly functioning nervous system
2. Proper Nutrition
3. Proper Exercise
4. Proper Rest
5. Proper Mental Attitude
They seem brilliant in their simplicity, and even in the mid 20th century, Masuda had the foresight to understand that a properly functioning nervous system and spine are essential for the body to be healthy.
However, the story at how Masuda arrived at these five pillars is fascinating in its own right. Born into a very poor family in Fukuoka, Japan in in the 1940s, Masuda was plagued by bad health his whole life. But he continued to work and provide for his family once he married. But when him and his wife had a baby son, Koji, they were devastated to see that the child had very serious physical disabilities.
There was a time not too long before that when handicapped babies would be killed at birth, and the prognosis for a normal life was not good. But Masuda was intent on earning enough money to pay for his expensive medical care, as well as give him the love, nurturing and encouraging his good health.
Masuda knew he needed to earn a lot of money to care for his son, but he also wanted to do something that helped people. Since he was plagued with bad health as well, he came up with the idea of putting magnets in shoes and selling them. He’d seen stories about astronauts using magnets in their space suits to stay healthy in outer space (it’s true – NASA does that), and in Japan, magnets had already been used therapeutically.
“I started thinking about how we use pebbles in our public hot baths,” says Masuda. “When you walk on them they stimulate the soles of your feet. I know magnets were therapeutic. In Japan we’ve used them for thousands of years to help healing. I put the idea together and made an insole for a shoe.”
So Masuda approached a financier he knew and asked for funding for his new business – and got it, despite the fact that he was sickly he was coughing all over the office. The new magnetic shoe insoles were a huge hit, and, although the shoe brand made no health claims, customers claimed they had better circulation, fewer illnesses, slept better, and generally felt much healthier.
The shoes became a national icon in Japan, allowing Masuda to make a fortune and give his son the best medical care possible, and by 1975, he formally launched his company – Nikken. It soon expanded to Taiwan, China and Thailand, and by 1993, Nikken had moved into 12 countries. Today, Nikken is still one of the largest health and wellness companies in the world.
Staying true to the five pillars of health and wellness Masuda outlined in order to help himself and also his son, they still ring true today. Over the years, Masuda expanded on those pillars to include five pillars for a good life, including “being healthy in your mind, in your close relationships, in finances and in your connections with your community to experience total wellness.”