Reiki History

The History of Reiki

Miko Usui

Mikao Usui was a Japanese Tendai Buddhist who studied Kiko, a form of Martial Arts similar to Qiging. In 1922 he went on a search to discover a healing method, similar to that used by Jesus and the Buddha, that would not deplete his own life force energy. After years of dedicated research and a twenty-one-day retreat on Mount Kurama, involving meditation, fasting, and prayer. Usui claimed that by mystical revelation he had gained the knowledge and spiritual power to apply and attune others to what is called “Reiki”.

The name Reiki derives from two Japanese characters rei’ (meaning ‘unseen’ or ‘spiritual’) and ki (Chinese qi or chi, here meaning ‘energy’ or ‘life force’, Prana in India, Mana in Hawaii and other names around the world). In English, the meaning of Reiki is often given as ‘Universal life force energy’ or “Spiritually guided life force energy”. 

Reiki is a holistic therapy which brings about healing on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. It is said that healing may occur in any or all of these domains in a single treatment, without a complete understanding needed by either the practitioner or the recipient. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been promoted as being effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery. An amazingly simple technique to learn, the ability to use Reiki is not taught in the usual sense but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class. This ability is passed on during an “attunement” given by a Reiki Master and allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of “life force energy” to improve one’s health and enhance the quality of life.

After his experience on Mt. Kurama he began back down the mountain and was, from this moment on, able to heal. On his way down the mountain he kicked his toe, which bled profusely. He placed his hands on the toe, and the bleeding stopped. On this first day alone he healed his toe, his own starvation, an ailing tooth of the in-keeper’s daughter and the Abbots sickness, which was keep-ing him bedridden. These are known as the first four miracles.

In 1922 Usui moved to Tokyo and started a healing society which he named Usui Shiki Ryoho, which means “The Usui System of Reiki Healing”. He also opened a Reiki Clinic in Harajuka, Aoyama, Tokyo. There he taught classes and gave treatments. He initially created three degrees for his training, which he called Shoden (First Degree), Okuden (Second Degree) and Shnipiden (Mystery Teaching or Reiki Master). It is thought that he may have included an additional 3 levels This has been verified by other members of the Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho, which still exists in Japan, although he still only used the same four Reiki Symbols which we use in the West, today.

In 1923 the great Kanto earthquake devastated Tokyo. More than 140,000 people died and over half the houses and buildings were destroyed. An overwhelming number of people were left homeless, injured, sick and grieving. Usui felt great compassion for the people and began treating as many as he could with Reiki. Demand for Reiki became so great that he outgrew his clinic, so in 1925 he built a bigger one in Nakano, Tokyo. Because of this, his reputation as a healer spread all over Japan. He began to travel so he could teach and treat more people. During his travels across Japan he directly taught more than 2,000 student and initiated 16 teachers. The Japanese Government issued him with a ‘Kun San To’ Humanitarian Award, for doing honourable work to help others.


The Usui Memorial is a 10 by four foot memorial stone located on Mt Kurama. The Memorial tells the story of Usui Reiki system of healing, and what a great service Mikao Usui did for the world.

While teaching at Fukuyama, he suffered a stroke and died on March 9th, 1926. He was 62 years old. His grave is at Saihojo Temple, in Suginami, Tokyo, although some claim his ashes are elsewhere.

An amazingly simple technique to learn, the ability to use Reiki is not taught in the usual sense but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class or workshop. This ability is passed on during an “attunement” given by a Reiki Master and allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of “life force energy” to improve one’s health and enhance the quality of life.

One of Usui’s 16 students was Chujiro Hyashi, who trained Mrs Hawayo Takata. From there Usui Reiki Ryoho spread to the west, and now there are thousands of Reiki students world-wide, who share the gift of Reiki with their families, friends and communities. Reiki is finally becoming accepted as a wonderful natural therapy which can often heal where other traditional therapies have failed, once the mind, body and soul are in alignment and energy flowing once more.

Chujiro Hayashi

During Usui’s travels he met Dr Chujiro Hayashi, a Naval Commander in the Naval Reserve. He came from a well educated and well to do family. Hayashi met Dr Usui in the marketplace holding a lit torch announcing his lecture at a nearby temple.

Dr Hayashi was very impressed with the sincerity and  conviction of Dr Usui. When asked by Usui to accompany him in his travels, Dr Hayashi agreed. And they travelled around teaching and healing. Dr Hayashi was one of the  16 Reiki Masters Usui personally trained. Hayashi trained a total of 13 Reiki Masters.

It is believed that Dr Hayashi developed the practice of treatment by using specific hand placements over the body. An organised method of hand placements allows for full coverage of the whole body, the organs, glands and chakras (energy centres).

Dr Hayashi passed away on Tuesday, May 10, 1940. This was just prior to World War II and it was clear that Japan would enter the war. Being a Reserve Officer, Dr Hayashi knew he would be recalled to duty and therefore become responsible for killing many people. This he did not want to do, and so determined to end his life. 

Before he died, it is thought that he passed his Reiki leadership over to Mrs Takata (perhaps because she would not be in Japan at the time of war, and therefore would be relatively safe and able to continue the practice). 

Hawayo Takata

Mrs Hawayo Takata is credited for bringing Reiki to the West. Mrs Takata was born on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, on Christmas Eve 1900 of Japanese descent. Eventually she married and had 2 daughters. In October 1930 Mrs Takata’s husband Saichi died, leaving her to raise their daughters alone. In order to do this she had to work very hard with little rest. After 5 years she became very sick with severe abdominal pain, a lung condition and a nervous breakdown. Soon after, Mrs Takata’s sister died, and it was her job to travel to Japan to visit her family there, and inform them of the death of her sister.

After informing her parents, she entered a hospital and was diagnosed with a tumour, gallstones, appendicitis and asthma. The doctors were going to operate, and as she was being prepared she kept hearing a voice saying “Operation not necessary”. Eventually she got off the table asking, “Is there another way?” The doctor had a sister who had been cured of dysentery at Dr Hayashi’s clinic and suggested that Mrs Takata talk with his sister. The sister brought Mrs Takata to the clinic and her treatments there began.

After 4 months Mrs Takata became completely well and she then wanted to learn Reiki for herself. Eventually Mrs Takata was able to persuade Dr Hayashi to train her in Reiki. She worked and trained under Hayashi, which took a year and brought her to what we would now call Reiki Level II. After this year she returned to Hawaii. 

In November 1936 Dr Hayashi came to Hawaii for a speaking tour to promote Reiki. During this time he trained Mrs Takata to teach Reiki, thus making her what we now  would call a Reiki Master, and announced this in Hawaii on February 21st, 1938. As he left Hawaii he asked her to come to see him when he summoned her.

After some time, World War II was nearing as it had begun in Europe. Dr Hayashi appeared to Mrs Takata in a dream asking her to come to Japan. She did this and found Dr Hayashi in his Naval Uniform, which he had taken out of storage. He was distressed. With the coming war he knew it was a matter of time before the Navy would call him out of retirement and he would be asked to perform actions he was not capable of doing due to his spiritual development. At this time he called all the Reiki Masters to a gathering, announced Mrs Takata to be the leader of Reiki, and then announced he would kill his physical body through bursting three blood vessels in his head. And as he continued speaking and lecturing those blood vessels burst and he died.

Mrs Takata returned to Hawaii and continued using and teaching Reiki. Eventually she moved to California, continuing to use and teach Reiki. It was not until 1970 that Mrs Takata began initiating Masters.

Mrs Takata initiated 22 Masters in the System of Reiki, and there it spread to the rest of the world.

Mrs. Takata's 22 Masters

George Araki
Dorothy Baba
Ursula Baylow
Rick Bockner
Patricia Bowling
Barbara Brown
Fran Brown
Phyllis Furumoto
Beth Gray
John Gray
Iris Ishikuro

Harry Kuboi
Ethel Lombardi
Barbara McCullough
Mary McFadyen
Paul Mitchell
Bethel Phaigh
Shinobu Saito
Virginia Samdahl
Wanja Twan
Barbara Weber Ray
Kay Yamashita

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