"It is my job to ensure that patients do not need to see me." This phrase is written in large letters on the webpage of Thomas Blasejewicz, an acupuncturist from Germany who has had his own clinic in the Kanagawa beach town of Hayama for 22 years.

To some this may seem an odd maxim for a health care practitioner to express, since patient visits are the basis for a professional healer's livelihood.

"Other acupuncturists told me I was crazy," he says. Yet not having to get treatment in the first place is, at least from the patient's point of view, the ideal situation. Failing that, says Blasejewicz, the goal should be to help the patient to not need to come back.