History of Reiki

The Life of Mikao Usui

Mikao Usui was born on August 15, 1865 in the village of Yago in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture, Japan, and he died on March 9th, 1926.

Usui grew up during the Meiji Restoration when Japan to open its borders and its economy to the outside world. This event led to a great flood of new ideas and traditions coming into Japan from all over the world.

Not only that, but Japan underwent a period of rapid industrialization, and ended the Shogunate. Such a period of rapid change caused many to want to hold of traditional culture and rekindle and maintain ancient traditions. Usui-sensei grew up during this period: Japan was a mixture of new ideas and systems running parallel to ancient teachings.

Mikao Usui trained at a Buddhist monastery near Mt. Kurama (“Horse Saddle Mountain”). There he studied ‘kiko’ (the Japanese version of Chi Kung). In adulthood, he worked as a businessman and as a diplomatic aide. It is during his time in diplomatic service that he traveled to America, Europe and China.

Mikao Usui
Mikao Usui

Usui-sensei was interested in a learning and spent much time at the large University library in Kyoto. He read about traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine, numerology and astrology, psychic and clairvoyant development. He was a member of ‘Rei Jyutsu Kai’, which was a high-level spiritual development group.

What was Usui-sensei’s goal in all this studying? Well, according to Hiroshi Doi, Mikao Usui was wondering seeking the  ultimate purpose of life – ‘Anshin Rytsu Mei’ (absolute inner peace). Doi-sensie says Usui researched hard trying to achieve this goal. Finally, he turned to a Zen master for advice on how to attain Anshin Rytsu Mei. The master replied “If you want to know; die!” Usui-sensei lost hope at this and thought, “My life is over”. He then went to Mt. Kurama and decided to fast until he died.

Whether or not this story is completely accurate, Usui-sensei did go to Mount Kurama to carry out a 21-day meditation and fast called ‘Lotus Repentance Meditation’. Usui-sensei carried out the meditation and, according to his memorial stone, he experienced an enlightenment or ‘sartori’ that led to the development of Reiki Ryoho.

According to Usui’s Memorial stone, a translation of which you can read here, Usui-sensei was a very well-known and popular healer, and he taught a large number of students all over Japan. In 1922, Usui opened a clinic and school in Tokyo. Most of his many students started out as patients.

After his death, many of his students stayed together and formed the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai and named Usui-sensei the first President. While others say the organization was actually formed by Usui-sensei while he was alive; to the members of the Gakkai, these two are actually the same thing.

Dr Chujiro Hayashi

Chujiro Hayashi
Chujiro Hayashi

Chujiro Hayashi was born into an upper class Japanese family, and was a qualified physician and retired Marine commander.

He set up a clinic near the Emperors palace in Tokyo called Shina No Macha. Each day his students held healing sessions at the clinic, or visited people in their homes in they were unable to travel.

Hayashi went on to write many report on the systems he had developed to treat various ailments. Special diets were incorporated into his treatments to assist the healing process.

Probably his greatest advancement for Reiki was to discover the importance of whole body treatment and how the universal life force would go wherever it was needed to heal. Providing of course you applied the full body treatment. This was needed to remove any emotional or physical blocks.

After Mikao Usui’s death, Chujiro Hayashi broke from the Gakkai and opened his own clinic. Hayashi-sensei students include Chiyoko Yamaguchi – who taught her son Tadeo (founder of Jikiden Reiki) and Hyakuten Inamoto (founder of Komyo Reiki Kai) – and Hawayo Takata – a Japanese/American woman and the woman who originally brought Reiki Ryoho to the West.

Hawayo Takata

Hawayo Takata
Hawayo Takata

Hawayo Kawamuru was born on the Island of Hawaii on 24th December 1900. At the age of seventeen she married Saichi Takata.

They had a happy marriage with two daughters. Tragically, her husband died at the young age of thirty-two. After thirteen years of marriage Hawayo Takata was left to raise two small children on her own.

The stress and pressure of the situation took toll on her health. Within five years of her husbands’ death she was diagnosed to be suffering from nervous exhaustion. Her health deteriorated to the point where she required surgery for a diseased gall bladder. However, she was also suffering from respiratory problems that meant the use of an anesthetic during surgery could kill her.

This was an extremely depressing and trying time in her life. Unfortunately there was more pain and suffering to come when her sister died. As her parents had returned to live in Tokyo, it was Hawayo Takata traditional responsibility to bring the news to them in person.

After her arrival in Japan, she sought help at a hospital in Akasaka. It was discovered that she now had a tumor and appendicitis to add to her diseased gallbladder and respiratory problems. Her weight dropped dramatically and her doctor advised her to have immediate surgery.

That night as she lay in bed she heard a voice saying, “The surgery is not necessary.” The next day as she was being prepared for surgery she heard the voice again saying, “The surgery was not necessary, ask – ask.” Takata asked the surgeon if there was another way she could be healed and he told her of the Reiki clinic run by Dr. Hayashi. The surgeon had a sister who had been there herself and had recovered fully from an illness.

Madam Takata went to the clinic and received treatments regularly for four months and was completely healed. She decided that she also wanted to learn Reiki and set up her own practice in Hawaii. Against all tradition, she was eventually able to persuade Dr. Hayashi to allow her to work and train at the clinic for twelve months. At the end of this time it was felt that she had earned the privilege of receiving the second degree in Reiki – the advanced practitioners’ level.

In the summer of 1937 Madam Takata returned to Hawaii and set up her own Reiki clinic. She spent her time healing and teaching Reiki. Dr Hayashi visited Madam Takata in February 1938 and invited her to become a Reiki Master. He said that she had gone through tests and had lived up to the Reiki Ideals and principles. She was the first woman and the first foreigner to be given this honor. Hayashi returned to Japan.

At the beginning of 1940 Japan was close to war with America. Dr Hayashi was aware he would be called up to fight. As a man of healing and peace he decided the only honorable thing to do was to precipitate his transition. He put his affairs in order. Madam Takata woke up one morning and saw a vision of Dr Hayashi at the foot of her bed. She realized she must travel immediately to Japan. On arrival in Japan she met with Dr Hayashi and he explained his decision to leave this world. They spent many days planning the future.

When Hayashi was satisfied he had safeguarded the future of Reiki he called all his students and friends together. At this point he declared Madam Takata his successor and the third Grand Master of Reiki. Dressed in traditional Japanese attire he lay down and allowed his spirit to leave his body. Madam Takata installed as the next Grand Master returned to Hawaii to continue her teaching and healing.

Madam Takata went on to train a further twenty two Reiki Masters before her death in December 1980.

  • George Araki
  • Dorothy Baba
  • Ursula Baylow
  • Rick Bockner
  • Patricia Bowling
  • Barbara Brown
  • Fran Brown
  • Phyllis Lei Furumoto
  • Beth Gray
  • John Harvey Gray
  • Iris Ishikuro
  • Harry M. Kuboi
  • Ethel Lombardi
  • Barbara Lincoln McCullough
  • Mary Alexandra McFadyen
  • Paul Mitchell
  • Bethal Phaigh
  • Shinobu Saito
  • Virginia W. Samdahl
  • Wanja Twan
  • Barbara Weber
  • Kay Yamashita
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