Oil massage is returning to China, but it’s been a long time coming.
As the country gears up for an economic slowdown, many Chinese tourists are seeking out massage, which can provide the same relief but is often cheaper.
And while massage has long been popular in Japan, the U.S. has become the largest market for the service in Asia.
The trend for massage is not new.
The practice began in China in the 1960s and gained popularity among the elite, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to Japanese media reports.
It was introduced in the United States in the 1980s, and by 2001, there were over 8,000 massage therapists working in the U, according the Japan Association of Occupational Therapists.
In 2007, the United Nations released a report that said that, due to a rise in obesity and other health concerns, the global economy could be in for a prolonged downturn due to climate change.
Many Western massage therapists also speak Mandarin, which means they can access more lucrative foreign markets.
But the popularity of massage is also rising in Japan and across Asia.
According to the Japanese government, over 500,000 foreigners currently practice massage in Japan.
Japan also ranks as the world’s second-most massage tourism market after Thailand.
“It’s a very different industry, with more sophisticated equipment, and a lot more experience in the massage field,” said Yoko Ishikawa, a massage therapist in Japan who is based in Tokyo.
Ishikawa, who said she makes $1,000 to $1.50 an hour, said she was surprised to see massage as a profitable option.
“In a country that has a very high percentage of people who live in poverty, this is a really healthy option,” she said.
Even though massage is a popular option in the States, Japanese massage therapists are wary of the trend.
Japanese massage therapists have said that massage therapy is often associated with “bio-hubs” or massage studios, which they see as being “safer” than traditional massage.
Japan is not the only country where massage is gaining popularity.
A number of Western massage studios in the Middle East and Asia are expanding their services, offering massages and other types of treatments that have been popular among the rich.
While many Japanese massage professionals see massage being an industry worth investing in, they have concerns about the potential of the practice being exported.
“I think massage is more of a luxury item, and we have to be careful about what it is exported to,” Ishikawa said.
“I don’t think it’s something that can go away, but I don’t want it to become a huge industry.”
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