The News Lens
By: Shannon Lin
‘Blind massage’ was first introduced to Taiwan by the Japanese during the colonial
era. More than 100 years later, signs for blind massage parlors remain a common sight in the underground malls and streets of Taiwan but the number of masseurs is declining.
“I typically start my sessions with the neck and shoulders. Modern day workers sit behind a desk all day so their upper back area tends to be really stiff,” says Lai Jun-hong (賴俊宏), a masseuse in Taipei’s Banqiao district.
“Behind the earlobes, there is a pressure point known as the ‘Gates of Consciousness.’ If you massage here, you can relieve headaches and eye irritability. Many of my patrons suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pains. Some consider surgery but I always try to discourage them. One wrong move and you could lose something important like I did with my eyesight.”
Born with visual complications, Lai, 25, lost most of his sight after a botched operation shortly after birth. Though he is partially sighted and can still read enlarged print, Lai is legally blind. He is one of 57,000 Taiwanese with a visual disability and one of a dwindling number of “blind masseurs,” an occupation that until recently was reserved for the visually impaired. [FULL STORY]