Reiki History


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 interpretation.

 A phptograph of Dr Mikaomi Usui

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 country. 

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 continue. 

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 angry.  
  • Don't worry.  
  • Be grateful.   
  • Work hard.  
  • Be kind to others.   
 A Photograph of Dr Hayashi


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 attunement. 

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 attunements, etc.  


 A Photograph of Mrs Hawayo Takata

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 follows: 

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.  

 A Photograph of Phyllis Furumoto grandaughter of Mrs Takata

Apparently, at the time of writing this Madam Takata's granddaughter Phyllis Furumoto is still a Reiki Grand Master in the western USA.


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 then. 


 A Photograph of William Lee Rand

William Rand, as well as writing authoritatively on Reiki, is thought by some to have been chiefly responsible for bringing Reiki to the UK.