It is important to be aware that Reiki history is in no way
absolutely clear. The way in which the Reiki teachings have been passed down and communicated over time, and the
absence of official documents; records were simply not kept. Leaving the true History of Reiki open to
Reiki as it is known today is generally said to have
begun with Dr Mikao Usui, a learned scholar and teacher, living in Japan in the 1800's. Sources suggest he was born on 15
August, 1865 in Gifu,
Japan, which is by the NagaraRiver mid-way between Tokyo and Kyoto in the south of the
Significantly Dr Mikomai Usui is believed to
have “rediscovered” Reiki, from old Sanskrit writings, aided by and his meditation experiences on Mount Kori-Yama.
What Dr Usui understood from the Sanskrit scripts, and the divine messages and images he experienced during his
meditations, enabled him to formulate the Reiki concept, symbols and techniques. Some Reiki teachers suggest that
these rediscovered healing secrets recreated those practised in Buddhism.
Reports vary as to whether Dr Usui
established his Reiki 'healing society' (supposedly in 1922) in Tokyo or Kyoto. The fact that the cities' names are
mutual anagrams no doubt didn't help the confusion, and probably guarantees that it will
Usui is credited with developing the Reiki
ideals and ethics, and the levels or degrees of capability, qualification and 'attunement' teaching. Dr Usui is
also credited with establishing five core values which feature in Reiki philosophy and teaching, sometimes known as
the five Reiki principles; although like Reiki itself, there is confusion regarding the correct core values stated
as the 5 principles:
- Don't get
- Be grateful.
- Be kind to others.
Reiki historians seem to agree that at some
stage (around 1925) Dr Usui initiated Dr Chujiro Hayashi, who by this time was a close friend and fellow Reiki
practitioner, as his successor, which involved teaching all three levels including the
Usui as it is reported was at some time
honoured by the Emperor of Japan, and most accounts seem to agree he died in 1926.
Dr Hayashi went on to set up a clinic in
Tokyo and continued to establish formality and order to the Reiki proceedings including hand positions, and
The third significant person within the history of Reiki, and
especially the spread of Reiki (to the west) is Mrs Hawayo Takata.
According William Rand in his highly regarded
book 'Reiki, The Healing Touch' (Vision Publications 1991) the history surrounding Mrs Hawayo Takata is as
Hawayo Takata was born on 24 December 1900,
on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, of Japanese immigrant parents. In October of 1930, her husband Saichi died leaving
Madam Takata to raise their two children. Perhaps due to her hard life, around 1935, she developed serious health
problems. The death of her sister prompted her to travel to Japan to inform her parents, who had since returned
there. Seeking medical help in Japan, Madam Takata (after apparently hearing voices on the operating table) then
came by recommendation to Dr Hayashi's Reiki clinic. After four months she was completely healed and so began her
own Reiki learning, which she brought back to Hawaii, aided by Dr Hayashi who had followed her to help spread the
word. Hayashi died in 1941, after which Madam Takata was the main force behind the adoption of Reiki teaching and
methods in the USA, notably via lecture tours to Universities, in all initiating twenty-two Reiki Masters up until
her death in 1980.
Apparently, at the time of writing this
Madam Takata's granddaughter Phyllis Furumoto is still a Reiki Grand Master in the western
When William Rand wrote 'Reiki, The Healing
Touch' in 1991 he estimated there were then 50,000 Reiki Masters and up to a million people practicing Reiki
throughout the world. I suspect the numbers have increased considerably, perhaps exponentially since
William Rand, as
well as writing authoritatively on Reiki, is thought by some to have been chiefly responsible for bringing
Reiki to the UK.