Reiki is a Japanese “hands healing” technique originated by Mikao Usui in the early 1922. The full name of the method is ‘Shin-Shin Kai-Zen Usui Reiki Ryo-Ho’ which translates as ‘The Usui Reiki Treatment Method for Improvement of Body and Mind.’

Usui Sensei

Although Usui Sensei (teacher) passed away in 1926, in a few brief years he was able to teach his technique to approximately 2,000 students, including 20 Shihans (also a word for “teacher” or “master”). Of these, the youngest was a navel doctor, Churjiro Hayashi. Hayashi Sensei operated a large clinic in Tokyo prior to World War II.

One of Hayashi Sensei’s students was Hayawo Takata, traveled from her birthplace of Hawaii to Japan in 1935 seeking treatment for a variety of health conditions. After her recovery, attributed to Reiki treatments at Hayashi Sensei’s clinic, Mrs. Takata began to study Reiki was the last Reiki Shihan trained by Hayashi Sensei before his death.

Mrs. Takata is credited with brining Reiki to the Western world, and initiated over 22 Reiki Masters between 1970 and her passing in 1980.

Reiki evolved and flourished in the west, even as it had faded into obscurity in Japan. One student of Hayashi Sensei who continued to practice and teach Reiki in Japan was Chiyoko Yamaguchi. She would give Reiki treatments to her family, neighbors and friends. It was not until 1999 when she and her son, Tadao, began to teach under the name Jikiden Reiki. (The word “Jikiden” is translated from the Japanese to mean “directly handed down” or “as passed down from ones teacher”. )

Over the years, several variations of the original Usui Reiki have evolved, adding new perspectives and practices to the treatment sessions. As one researches Reiki, they will find Usui Tibetan Reiki, Karuna Reiki®, and Holy Fire Reiki®, all taught by the International Center for Reiki Training (ICRT). The Radiance Technique®, Real Reiki®, Authentic Reiki®, Gendai Reiki, Rainbow Reikiand Jikiden Reiki are some of the better known disciplines.

The question sometimes arises, “with all of these different approaches, what is really Reiki? 

In his book, Light on the Origin of Reiki, Tadao Yamaguchi writes, “As I see it, the differences in techniques are not as important as attitude, so I believe that it is very important that the original teachings of Hayashi Sensei be passed on, not just in terms of techniques but of the fundamental attitudes and intentions he maintained.”

If the original teachings of Usui Sensei are at the core of the educational curriculum of the teacher, including the passing on of the awakening of being a Reiki conduit, called an attunement or Rejiu, it is Reiki. 

This is a very simplified history of Reiki and does not begin to encompass the depth, breath and various directions that Reiki has taken in its travels through cultures around the world.