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The Traditional History of Reiki


1802-1883 (approximate dates given)


Dr. Mikao Usui, or Usui Sensei as he is called by his students in Japan, is the founder of the Usui System of Reiki. He was born on August 15, 1865 in the village of Yago in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture, Japan. Usui Sensei had an avid interest in learning and worked hard at his studies. He travelled to Europe and China to further his education. His curriculum included medicine, psychology and religion. It is thought that he was from a wealthy family as in Japan only the wealthy could afford to send their children to school. Eventually he became the secretary to Pei Gotoushin, head of the department of health and welfare who later became the Mayor of Tokyo. The connections Usui Sensei made at this job helped him to become a successful businessman.


The history of Reiki goes back to the teachings of Dr. Mikao Usui, in the late 1800's, the founder of Reiki. His teaching has been passed down in moral and written traditions. Dr. Usui looked for a way to heal through the 'light of God' which is the way Jesus had healed. This set him on a journey of many years.

Studying first at Christian schools in the US, for where else to learn of Jesus, but with no results. In the Christian schools the method was not known. It was suggested he study Buddhist writings since the Buddha had also healed. This took more years studying at a monastery in the Orient. Nowhere could he find the answers.

In Japan he toured many temples asking for knowledge of how the Buddha had healed. At each one the priests said they were more concerned with spiritual than physical well being. In one small monastery he found some ancient Sanskrit writings from India (or perhaps Tibet).

After a few more years of study, he felt he had come to an understanding and that to go further required in depth meditation. He declared to the monks of this monastery his intention to fast and meditate for 21 days at a nearby mountain - Mount Koriyama - a mountain known as an excellent place for meditation.

He told the Monk, "If I do not come back on the night of the twenty-first day on the twenty-second morning send out a search party to find my body. I will be dead. I shall go through this meditation without food - only water."

He climbed the mountain. He went to the mountain and gathered 21 stones with which to count the days. Each day he would throw away a stone and in this way count the time. On the 20th day nothing had come as yet and he threw away the last stone saying, "Well, this is it, either I get the answer tonight or I do not".

In the night on the horizon he could see a ball of light coming towards him. The first instinct was to get out of the way, but he realized this might just be what he was waiting for, so allowed it to hit him right in the forehead. As it struck him he was taken on a journey and shown bubbles of all the colors of the rainbow in which were the symbols of Reiki, the very same symbols in the Tibetan writings he was studying but had been unable to understand.

Millions and millions of bubbles danced before him, and then moved to his left. Usui counted seven colors. "I was blessed today!" A great white light came from his right. Golden symbols appeared, one after another. They radiated out in front of him, like on a movie screen, as if to say, "Remember! Remember!" As he watched them, there was total understanding.

He dusted himself off, picked up his cane and straw hat, and then took the first steps of his twenty-five mile trek to Kyoto. The Zen monks were expecting him at the temple by sundown. He was surprised that he hadn't died of starvation and didn't feel hungry anymore. "This was indeed a miracle," he thought.

Near the foot of the mountain, Dr Usui stubbed a big toe on a rock. The blow lifted the toenail. Blood spurted out. The pain thumped with his heartbeat.

He sat down and held the toe in his hands. The pain subsided. The bleeding stopped. He continued to hold it till there was no more pain. Then he looked at the toe, he was amazed and delighted to see the nail back in its normal position. There was no indication of injury except dried blood. "This is indeed a second miracle!" he thought.

On the trip back he healed the ailing tooth of a young girl by placing his hands on her face. This was his third miracle in one day. In exchange for the healing, the girl's uncle gave Dr. Usui some food. He ate heartily though not getting sick after breaking a 21 day fast.

These are known as Dr. Usui's first four miracles.

Once back at the Zen temple, Dr. Usui healed the Monk who had been suffering from arthritis and back ache.
He wanted to use these abilities to help others, he spent the next seven years in the beggars section of Tokyo healing the poor and sick people there, sending them to a priest to assist finding them employment, and elevating them out of poverty. After the seven years he noticed familiar faces, those of people whom he'd healed long ago who were back again. Asking them, they complained that life outside beggar town was too hard and that it was much simpler to beg for a living. They had thrown away the gift of health, as if it had no value, to return to the supposed comfort of the life they knew.

This threw Usui into a quandary and he returned to the monastery. From this he realized he hadn't taught gratitude along with the healing. That he'd focussed on the physical ailments without dealing with the spiritual matters. The people did not understand the value of the gift he gave them.

Dr. Usui returned to the monastery for Furth reflection and planning. After some time in the monastery he developed precepts. In this new plan he travelled around the countryside from village to village. In each one he stood in a public place during the day holding aloft a lit torch. When people told him he didn't need a torch in daylight, he answered was he was looking for the few who are interested in improving themselves. In this way he travelled around teaching and healing, working both with the spiritual healing as well as physical healing.


Dr. Chujiro Hayashi was a retired naval officer. He received the Reiki Master initiation from Dr. Usui about 1925 at the age of 47. During these travels he met Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a Naval Commander in the Naval Reserve. He came from a well educated and well to do family. He 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. They travelled around teaching and healing.


After Dr. Usui passed on, Dr. Hayashi became the leader of Reiki. Dr. Hayashi opened a clinic in Tokyo near the Imperial Palace. It consisted of eight beds in a large room, two practitioners per patient. One would treat the head and the other would be on the right treating the stomach area.

Then both would treat the patients back. The practitioners all worked here doing healings. They would also go to the homes of sick people for house calls.

To become a Reiki Practitioner in that time one had to be accepted by the masters in the Reiki organization, and second had to promise to use Reiki daily and volunteer some hours to practice Reiki regularly in the clinic.

Some believe that Dr. Hayashi developed the practice of treatment by using specific hand placements over the body. Being of a military background, and therefore more organized, Dr. Hayashi would have preferred an organized method of treatment. In addition an organized method of hand placements allows for full coverage of the body and organs.

Dr. Hayashi passed on May 10, 1940. This was just prior to Japan's entry into WWII. 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. In addition he wished to, and did, pass leadership over to Reiki to a Mrs. Hawayo Takata - perhaps because she would not be in Japan and therefore relatively safe and able to continue the practice.


Hawayo Takata was born at dawn on December 24th, 1900, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Her parents were Japanese immigrants and her father worked in the sugar fields. She worked very hard as she was growing up. She eventually married the bookkeeper of the plantation where she was employed. His name is Saichi Takata and they had two daughters. In October of 1930, Saichi died at the age of thirty-four leaving Mrs. Takata to raise their two children. In order to provide for her family, she had to work very hard with little rest. After five years she developed severe abdominal pain, a lung condition and had a nervous breakdown.

Soon after this, one of her sisters died and it was the responsibility of Hawayo to travel to Japan where her parents had moved to deliver the news. She also felt she could receive help for her health in Japan.


She took a steamer ship and was accompanied by her sister-in-law. After informing her parents of the death of her sister, she entered a hospital. While there she became very sick and was in the hospital. The doctors were going to operate. As she was being prepared she kept hearing a voice saying "Operation not necessary". Eventually she jumped 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 to Mrs. Takata she talk with his sister.

The sister brought Mrs. Takata to the clinic and her treatments there began. After Mrs. Takata became well she wanted to learn this for herself. However Dr. Hayashi was not willing to teach her because she was a foreigner. Through the good graces of her doctor, Mrs. Takata was able to persuade Dr. Hayashi to train her in Reiki. This training took a year and brought her to what we would now call Reiki Level II. After this year she returned to Hawaii. In Hawaii she also learned the lesson of having the recipient perceive value in receiving treatments. She treated a neighbour but did not charge, this neighbour did not value the treatments and did not become well. She treated another relative and this time charged, and this relative did stay well. Thus the tradition of charging for Reiki treatment was reinforced.

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. As he left Hawaii he asked her to come to see him when he summoned her.

After some more time it was nearing when World War II would start, the part in Europe already having begun. Dr. Hayashi appeared to Mrs. Takata in a dream asking her to come to Japan. She did this and found Dr. Hayashi having his Naval Uniform out of storage and fretful. 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 passed to Mrs. Takata the leadership of Reiki. He gathered 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. As he continued speaking and lecturing those blood vessels burst and he died.

Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii in 1937. She was soon followed by Dr. Hayashi and his daughter who came to help establish Reiki in Hawaii. In the winter of 1938, Dr. Hayashi initiated Hawayo Takata as a Reiki master. She was the thirteenth and the last Reiki Master Dr. Hayashi initiated.
Between 1970 and her transition on December 11, 1980, Mrs. Takata initiated twenty-two Reiki Masters. Below is a list of the Reiki Masters she initiated. This is the list she gave her sister before she passed through transition.

George Araki
Barbara McCullough
Beth Grey
Ursula Baylow (deceased)
Paul Mitchell
Iris Ishikura (deceased)
Fran Brown
Barabara Weber Ray
Ethel Lombardi
Wanja Twan
Virginia Samdahl (deceased)
Phyllis Lei Furumoto
Dorothy Baba (deceased)
Mary McFaden
John Gray
Rick Bockner
Bethel Phaigh (deceased)
Harry Kuboi
Patricia Ewing
Shinobu Saito
Kay Yamashita (Takata’s sister)
Barbara Brown

The original twenty-two teachers have taught others. In the decade since Mrs.Takata experienced transition, Reiki has spread rapidly in the West. It is now practiced throughout North and South America, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other parts of the world. There now an estimated 500,000 Reiki Masters with as many as 3,000,000 people having been initiated into Reiki throughout the world.

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