History of Kenkoh Massage Sandals

Eastern Philosophy

Thousands of years of Eastern medical thought and philosophy have contributed to a heritage generated, extensive system of healing that includes herbal medicine practices, acupuncture, and reflexology originating in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China, and Vietnam. Eastern Medicine addresses the inter-relatedness between a therapy, herb, or supplement and the organism as a whole. One example is the herbal blends and mixtures that are extensively recorded and mapped to grasp all the chemical properties of the plant, its relationship to other herbs, and how it will interact with the body’s interconnected systems through time-tested practices.

Eastern modalities are practiced on a consistent, long-term basis. However, in a socio-cultural setting with the expectation of instant results that permeates every aspect of mainstream culture, how can such a practice take root and grow? From fast food to the fastest mobile app loading times, to fast tracks in education, and of course, fast-acting pharmaceutical drugs, where does Eastern Medicine have a role to play?


The Geta, a traditional Japanese sandal. IMG SRC: Les Indecises Vintage

Origin of Kenkoh

For those in search of long term sustainable solutions to their health ailments, Eastern medicine offers valuable remedies that investigate the underlying, core issue. This investigation may take several sessions where diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, past traumas, and latent emotions may be discussed as they pertain to the symptom at hand. Such approaches to the body’s overall health are what brought our signature product, the Kenkoh, into existence.

Kenkoh’s inventor, Kyu-kichi Yamanashi, was born in Japan in 1927. After working for several years at the Manchurian Railroad in China, he decided to pursue manufacturing the Geta, a traditional Japanese wooden sandal. Shortly after getting the Geta factory running, Kyu-kichi contracted tuberculosis due to poor living conditions, malnutrition and overwork. As a result of his illness, Kyu-Kichi’s right lung was removed and he began a difficult recovery. Two years after his surgery, his recovery was not proceeding well. A fortuitous visit by his best friend from his railroad days, doctor Sho-ichi Akitsuki, changed his life.


Aodake-Fumi, or “stepping on bamboo.”

Ancient Healing Techniques

The doctor suggested using the Taiwanese technique of stepping on cut bamboo to massage the soles of his feet, an acupressure practice called Aodake-Fumi which literally translates to “stepping on bamboo.” Amazingly, Kyu-kichi began to recover. Excited by the effectiveness of the technique, Kyu-kichi began experimenting with other Eastern folk remedies, such as Sokushindo, the oldest form of Japanese foot massage and reflexology in the Orient.

It was then in late 1950’s that Kyu-kichi began to develop a prototype for integrating his Geta sandals with Sokushindo and Aodake-Fumi. The most successful prototype had wooden nodules embedded on the wooden sandals. Although effective, the wooden knobs were uncomfortable so Kyu-kichi quickly designed a “healthy” Geta sandal with rubber nodules. By 1970, the design had been improved and the Kenkoh brand was created.


Kyu-kichi Yamanashi creates the original prototype for the Kenkoh in 1954.

Kenkoh Today

While the Kenkoh style and design have evolved over time, the original concepts of Aodake-Fumi and Sokushindo remain intact. The Kenkoh is a sustainable solution for many chronic pain ailments and extends in treating the feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, and even the spine as it corrects and realigns the body into a neutral, healthy position. In addition, essential nerve endings in the feet are stimulated, and that improves the circulatory system. Thanks to Kenkoh’s foot-bed of over 1,000 rubber nodules, toxins like uric and lactic acid, as well as calcium buildups, are broken down and released.

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This interconnected system of two treatment styles working harmoniously together is the reason why the Kenkoh product is so effective. An improved posture eases pain associated with joint discomfort, plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia, while increased stimulation to the circulatory system helps decrease swelling and returns vitality to the body’s extremities.

In a culture of instant gratification and quick fixes, it’s important to connect with our bodies and put in the time and effort when it comes to health and exercise. Eastern modalities incorporated into the Kenkoh are essential and effective tools to battle fatigue, chronic pain and poor circulation.

Give your feet something to smile about