Reiki has roots in Japan around the beginning of the 20th Century. A man, Mikaomi Usui, sought to either learn about how Jesus healed, or to revolutionize Qi Gong practice. The most commonly taught Reiki history comes to us through Mrs. Takata, that Usui wanted to learn how Jesus healed and then had a mystical experience on a mountain. Newer histories of Reiki tell another story, that Usui wanted to rethink the approach to Qi Gong.
The truth has been obscured by the method of Reiki’s initial transmission into America. It seems that Hayashi and Mrs. Takata wanted to Christianize Reiki to make it more agreeable to Americans. This did occur shortly before World War II when anti-Japanese sentiment was strong. It was the Hayashi-Takata lineage from which most Reiki practitioners learned the craft.
The history of Reiki given in the older books and still being taught by many Reiki teachers is what Mrs. Hawayo Takata had narrated. When she received Reiki training, and especially after Second World War, she was the only known Reiki Master in USA. So what she said was taken as such but in early ninetees, some researchers found that many things were actually different to what Mrs. Takata had mentioned. Nevertheless, the credit of rediscovering Reiki stays with Dr. Mikao Usui and spreading it in the West with Mrs. Hawayo Takata.
Dr. Mikao Usui, the Founder
The history of Reiki begins with Dr. Mikao Usui who re-discovered it in Japan in the early 1900s. Dr. Mikao Usui (or Usui Sensei as he is called by his students in Japan) was born on August 15, 1865 in a village called Yago of Yamagata district of Japan. As a sensitive spiritualist, Usui Sensei had spent much time meditating on Mount Kurama. One day somewhere around 1914 (some books say 1922), Dr. Usui decided to travel to this holy mountain to fast and meditate in solitude for 21 days. At the end of this period, he was enlightened and suddenly felt the great Reiki energy at the top of his head. That is how he received this great gift of Reiki.
He first used Reiki on himself and then tried it on his family. Since it worked very well for various ailments, he decided to share it with the public at large and spread his knowledge. He taught Reiki to over 2000 persons and also trained 16 Masters (21 according to some books). On March 9, 1926, while teaching in Fukuyama, he suffered a stroke and died. According to one version, Dr. Usui is now buried in the Kyoto temple, with the story of his life written on the gravestone.
Dr. Chujiro Hayashi
Dr. Hayashi was one of the sixteen teachers training by Usui Sensei. He was a retired naval officer and a medical doctor, still on reserve status. Dr. Hayashi received his Reiki Master’s training in 1925 and became Dr. Mikao Usui’s successor, the second Reiki Grand Master in the line of tradition. He ran a Reiki clinic in Tokyo until 1940, where unusually severe cases could be treated with Reiki being applied “round the clock”. It was to his clinic that Mrs. Hawayo Takata was directed in 1935. It is said that Dr. Chujiro Hayashi was the last Reiki Master trained by Dr. Usui.
In the year 1938, Dr. Hayashi visited Hawaii where he initiated Mrs. Hawayo Takata to Reiki Teacher’s degree and announced that she was one of the 13 Reiki Masters (some books say 17) trained by him. Later Mrs. Hawayo Takata became Dr. Hayashi’s successor and spread Reiki in the West. The effects of the Second World War and the death of Dr. Hayashi on May 10, 1941, put an end to his work. According to another version, correct year of death of Dr. Chujiro is 1940.
Mrs. Hawayo Takata
Mrs. Hawayo Takata was born on December 24, 1900, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She got married with Saichi Takata but became a widow at the age of 34 with two small children and returned to Japan. At that time she was suffering from a number of severe illnesses, which were diagnosed as tumor, gallstone, appendicitis and asthma. She was advised to go to Dr. Hayashi’s Reiki Clinic, which she did and began receiving treatments. Mrs. Takata improved progressively and in few months she won back her health completely. Now she wanted to learn Reiki for herself. In the spring of 1936, she received First Degree Reiki from Dr. Hayashi and then worked with him for a year and received Second Degree Reiki. She returned to Hawaii in 1937, followed shortly thereafter by Dr. Hayashi who went to help establish Reiki there. In February 1938, Dr. Hayashi initiated Hawayo Takata as a Reiki Master.
Mrs. Hawayo Takata practiced Reiki in Hawaii, establishing several clinics, one of which was located in Hilo on the big Island. She gave treatments and initiated students up to Reiki II. She became a well-known healer and traveled to the U.S. mainland and other parts of the world teaching Reiki and giving attunements. She was a powerful healer, and attributed her success to the fact she did so much Reiki on each client. It is said that at the age of 80 years she never looked more than 60 years. She would often do multiple treatments, each sometime lasting hours, and she often initiated members of the client’s family so they could give Reiki to the client as well.
Mrs. Takata began initiating Reiki Masters in 1970 (some say 1976) and trained 22 Reiki Masters in her life time. On December 11, 1980, Hawayo Takata passed away. The twenty-two Masters in turn taught Reiki to others, and thus Reiki, the wonderful healing system finally reached us. The credit of spreading Reiki to the world goes to Reiki Grand Master/Teacher Mrs. Hawayo Takata. Had she not done it, today none of us would have had Reiki. She must be honored and respected.
Reiki Since Mrs. Takata
She charged a fee of $10,000 for Mastership even though the training took only one weekend. She said that one should never do treatments or provide training for free, but should always charge a fee or get something in return. She also said that one must study with just one Reiki teacher and stay with that teacher for the rest of one’s life. In addition, she did not allow her students to take notes or to tape record the classes, as they were not allowed to make any written copies of the Reiki symbols. Everything had to be memorized. It is not certain why she said that or why she taught Reiki that way.
After her passing away, things started changing and the system started going through the process of evolution. Now there are as many ways of teaching as the teachers. There is no restriction on taking notes. In fact Reiki teachers provide comprehensive manuals to their students at every level. Training charges also vary with the teacher. After few more years, what shape would it take is anyone’s guess.