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“Rs” (Senior Rehabilitation and Day Care, In-Home Acupuncture and Moxibustion), Ritajinenn Corporation
Ayaka Fukuhara of Ritajinenn Corporation’s “Rs” (Senior Rehabilitation and Day Care, In-Home Acupuncture and Moxibustion)
March 2008 Graduate of the Acupuncture and Moxibustion Night Course
Ayaka Fukuhara became aware of the “greatness of acupuncture and moxibustion” while working in an osteopathic clinic after graduating from a school for sports trainers. She subsequently enrolled in Toyoshinkyu and now seven years have passed since her graduation.
She currently works in Ritajinenn’s Mori no Gakkou (lit. “Forest School”) “Rs” in Kamagaya City, Chiba Prefecture. Here, she is in charge of senior day care and also works making house calls as a practitioner of acupuncture, moxibustion, and anma/massage/shiatsu. She is also the mother of a three-year-old son.
We visited Fukuhara at her work in Kamagaya and interviewed her, a women dedicated to her career and raising her child.
Ritajinenn Corporation’s homepage is http://ritajinenn.com
Q: We’ve heard that this office is a composite facility.
A: Yes. In addition to the senior day service, house call acupuncture and moxibustion and anma/massage/shiatsu, and the salon, we also have a café and a children’s dance school. We are surrounded by nature and provide a facility where people from children to senior citizens can interact with each other regardless of age. We recently finished a renovation of the senior day service facility, making it more spacious.
Q: Please tell us about your current schedule.
A: I wake up a little after 5:00, do general housework, make boxed lunches, and then take my kid (a three-year-old) to nursery school a little before 8:00. I’m at work before 8:30. Morning senior day care runs from 9:00 to 12:00, and the afternoon runs from 13:00 to after 16:00.
In addition to being responsible for the senior day care sessions, I also drive 10 people to and from the facility for the morning and afternoon senior day care. Our facility capacity will increase to 18 people in November, so things will get even more hectic (probably). Operating hours will also be getting longer. During the day, my primary duties are in senior day care, teaching exercises and doing stretching. Our clients all work very hard for their rehabilitation and many of them are cheerful and energetic. (Our oldest client is in their 90s.)
Currently, I have Saturdays and Sundays off (some people have Sundays and a weekday off). In addition to my care work, once a week I make acupuncture and moxibustion house calls. The company actually has a few other practitioners of acupuncture and moxibustion working for it as well. Some acupuncture and moxibustion clients also use the senior day care services, which makes for close and comfortable relationships. Of course, I also treat any patients who have reservations at the on-site clinic. Generally, I leave work somewhere between 17:30 and 18:00, and then go to meet my son at his nursery school. Housework makes things pretty busy after we get home, but my husband pitches in which helps out.
Reasons for Pursuing Acupuncture and Moxibustion Licensure & Life at Toyoshinkyu
Q: What were your reasons for pursing acupuncture and moxibustion licensure?
A: After I graduated high school I enrolled in a school for sports trainers. I was a member of my high school’s tennis club, which contributed to me aiming to become a sports trainer or a physical education teacher.
After graduating from the sports trainer program I started working at sekkotsu-in (osteopathic clinic), and it was here that I first encountered acupuncture and moxibustion. I saw the results produced by the practitioner of acupuncture and moxibustion who worked at the clinic and I thought, “acupuncture and moxibustion is great… I want to do that too.” When considering schools, I decided to look for places that emphasized the oriental aspects of acupuncture and moxibustion, leading me to enroll in Toyoshinkyu.
I was really surprised during my first homeroom class after starting at Toyoshinkyu. When the teacher who would be in charge of our class was introduced it was none other than the director of the acupuncture and moxibustion clinic right behind the osteopathic clinic where I was working part time!
Since my parents paid my tuition for sports trainer school, I paid for acupuncture and moxibustion school on my own, taking on school loans to make ends meet. The osteopathic clinic where I worked part time was very understanding with my study needs, and in total I ended up working there a total of about six years. Working there meant I was very busy, but it gave me the chance to come into contact with the bodies of many different patients, which was a great study opportunity.
I was surprised when I looked around after classes started and realized I was one of the younger students. My classmates had more life experience than I did and I am grateful they treated me with such affection.
Q: While you were a student, was studying for the national examination and learning about oriental medicine initially difficult?
A: In the beginning it was hard because I was studying for the first time in a long time and classes started after I finished at work. However, I got used to it after about a year-and-a-half. At first, I was a little thrown off by practical training classes with “strong stimulation,” but it was interesting to learn about many types of treatment modalities.
When I started school, the third year students were beginning their clinical practicums. I was surprised by what they were doing! It was a shock for me as a first year student to see what the third year students were doing. I think being able to experience the tension of an actual treatment while you are still a student is a good experience.
At the end of my third year I was left feeling burnt out by the school’s examination for graduation. It was really difficult to raise my energy levels for the national examinations. One of my classmates was a licensed pharmacist who held study sessions and taught me things I didn’t understand. That made it possible for me to somehow pull through. My class at the time was about one-third female. I’m a little jealous of students now because it seems there are more female students.
Q: Tell us about marriage and working in care.
A: I married after I started working for Ritajinenn. I was searching for work in care services because I felt that if I were to pursue becoming a care manager (caseworker), I didn’t want to take the exam if I didn’t have any first-hand knowledge of care services. So that is how I started with Ritajinenn. I had a hard time finding work because of the limited number of care positions for people licensed in acupuncture and moxibustion, but I had the good fortune of finding a great place to work. The senior day care had been open about half a year when I started.
In the beginning, I often felt lost because work at a senior day care is very different from work at an osteopathic clinic. Actual care work was different from what I imagined. Ritajinenn’s senior day service is focused on exercise, so many of our clients are energetic and their energy helps us be energetic too.
After returning from maternity leave, I also started making acupuncture and moxibustion house calls. I was really nervous about providing treatments after being away from it for a while.
Q: Tell us about the appeal of acupuncture and moxibustion.
A: An increasing number of patients who visit clinics are requesting a female practitioner of acupuncture and moxibustion. Personally, I gained a greater appreciation for the appeal of acupuncture and moxibustion through my experience of childbirth and childcare. Pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare in particular affect a women’s lifestyle in greatly different ways depending on her age. Of course there are physical changes, but I also think there are huge mental changes as well. I hope that I am able to provide even better advice, through acupuncture and moxibustion, as well as through my own personal experiences.
I hope to be doing this for the rest of my life.
A Message for Prospective Future Students
I think that “human power” is necessary in the world of acupuncture and moxibustion. So, it is a career well suited to people from many different employment backgrounds and life experiences. Although it is the same for care services as well, in order to start conversations I have needed to gain knowledge in areas I previously wasn’t interested in, such as baseball, sumo, golf, and politics. I’ve started reading the newspaper.
Toyoshinkyu College of Oriental Medicine has teachers and classmates with a rich variety of experiences. You will be able to have a really fun student life at Toyoshinkyu. Why don’t you make a visit if your are considering enrolling at Toyoshinkyu?