Kidneys Say the Darndest Things

They’re big in Japan. Well, they come in different sizes, but they’re popular. I suspect we’ll be seeing them here soon. They are Haramaki: that which covers the Hara, or simply belly/kidney warmers. The Haramaki was originally a piece of Samurai armor. Later in history it was a good luck amulet for soldiers to wear to war. Now they are considered a health promoting clothing accessory.


The Haramaki is simply a tube of cloth or a wrap that covers the belly and the lower back and is worn under other clothing. Until recently they were considered an old fashioned piece of undergarment, like granny panties, although worn by both sexes. They were occasionally worn to address health complaints like stomach ache, kidney pain, diarrhea…general problems with your abdomen. They have become popular as an item of  clothing that looks good, provides comfort and nurtures health. They are said to raise core warmth quite efficiently, which is, according to Dr. Akira Kawashima, important for a number of reasons. Dr. Kawashima  explains:

Looking at physiology, a cold body cannot contain enough blood mass to transport oxygen or nutrients as it should. The human metabolism requires a good blood flow in order to break down stuff and set energy free, but with insufficient circulation the cell function becomes poor, enzymes cannot work properly to break down various elements and the body cannot create enough heat. In order for these enzymes to work, it requires an optimum temperature between 37 or 38 degrees [Celcius]. When the overall temperature is too low, the oxygen loses its strength to react and puts a strain on the immune system. This also has an effect on our mental activity. In short, a cold body can be the root of any sickness from life-style related diseases to cancer. 

The heart literally turns cold when the body temperature goes down resulting in a negative mood-swing. Simply by keeping oneself cozy and warm at all times results in a better outlook on life.

In Traditional Chinese medicine organs are not simply physiological features but are a description of systems of dynamic biological and energetic processes. In contrast, Western medicine tends to see the human body as a static-state, chemical machine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the kidneys store the jing (the primordial human energy), they house the will, and are the dominant organ for human reproduction and development. According to Dr. Michael Tierra the kidneys are involved in:
…ALL PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS THAT INCLUDE THE KIDNEY-URINARY SYSTEM PLUS THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEMS and especially the adrenal glands. TCM Kidney Yin and Kidney Yang involves the regulation of electrolyte balance of sodium and potassium, necessary for the circulation of bioelectrical energy throughout the body. Further, the TCM concept of kidney yin very prominently involves the secretion of glucocorticoid hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal cortex. Kidney yang in addition to involving adrenaline secretions of the adrenal medula, also involve other endocrine functions including the pituitary and thyroid glands.


In the way that organs are both a physical structure and a psycho-spiritual-energetic reality so the word hara has a greater meaning than “belly”. For example, the Japanese phrase “hara o waru”, meaning to slit open one’s hara/belly, is not literal. Instead, it represents one who is sincere and speaks the truth, open and frank. Another example of the less physical sense of the word “hara” is “hara ga dekite iru”, meaning “the stomach is complete”. This phrase refers to being completely calm in all situations. In Japanese esoteric teachings one reaches a space where complete calm is experienced even in the face of death – this too is “hara ga dekite iru”.
The word “hara” in Japan is cognate with the Chinese word dantian. Dantian translated is “cinnabar field” or “elixir field”. It can be understood as a place in the body where the elixir of life is created.

One can see the importance in keeping the kidneys warm, since they are the veritable lamp of life. When their energy is gone, so is life. Might as well look good when you are warming and nurturing your cinnabar field.

Bill Calvani
Grocery Manager