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The Edited History of Usui Reiki

For the full version, please download my free PDF ebook, A Beginners Guide to Reiki & Seichem




As there is little factual written information from Mikao Usui himself, and because Mrs Takata added story telling, mystics and ceremony in order to present a Japanese form of healing to the Americans not long after the 2nd World War, you will read many different versions of what is in essence, the same story.   This is the history of Usui Reiki, as I believe it to be.

Mikao Usui was born on the 15th of August 1865 in the village of Yago, in the Gifu Prefecture where his family had lived for several generations. His family, which was reasonably wealthy, belonged to the Tendai sect of Buddhism.  When he was four, he was sent to a Tendai Monastery to receive his primary education and where he learned the martial art of Kiko, a discipline designed to improve health, focusing on the use of Chi and may have included methods for healing with the hands.  This is a martial art not too dis-similar to Qi Gong, and he practised the meditations and breathing techniques to strengthen his ability to build up his personal Chi.   He put this knowledge to good use later in his career.  Usui was a very bright student and when he pursued higher education it is thought that he may have graduated with a Doctorate in Literature.   He spoke many languages, and it’s thought that he travelled to America and Europe and became well-versed in medicine, theology and philosophy.  He was not a doctor of medicine as some early stories had said.

Mikao Usui developed a compassionate wish that he should learn and pass on methods of healing that would benefit all mankind.   He became a devout student and spent much time and money studying Buddhist healing techniques and symbols.He was however, unable to understand the meanings and use of some of the information, and he could get little help from other Buddhist monks.


This is Usui Sensei with some of his early students.

Usui and Early Students


The Birth of Usui Reiki Ryoho

Because of his enhanced psychic abilities, he was able to belong to a metaphysical group called the Rei Jyutsu Kai.  This group had a centre at the base of the holy mountain Kurama Yama.  It seems that one of the rituals they practised was what we would call “distant healing”   At one of the meetings, a student asked Usui why it was that the treatments and healings that he, and they, were giving weren’t very effective or long lasting.   Hands on healing, was quite commonplace in Japan at that time.   However, like most forms of hands on healing, the healers were GIVING their own chi energy to the healee, and this could make the healer unwell.  

Usui somehow knew that there was a better way and so in March 1922 he returned to the Temple on Mount Kurama to work towards achieving Satori (spiritual enlightenment), and to see if the monks could explain the meanings of certain symbols, but they could not.   In order to interpret this information and possibly to find the “meaning of his life” he was guided to go on a 21 day fast on Kurama Yama to ask for divine guidance.

WaterfallUsui placed 21 stones before him on the ground in an area set aside for meditation and fasting.   The Temple and the mountain itself is the Spiritual symbol of Kurama Temple.   Steps lead down to a base where one can sit and meditate, and nearby there is a man made waterfall.   One of the meditations involved sitting under the waterfall, allowing the stream to fall on his head.   This is still practised today, the purpose is to open and purify the Crown Chakra.   I personally believe he was under the water fall when he received enlightenment.


At the end of each day, he would remove one stone in order to count the days.   As he removed the last stone, he became aware of a bright light approaching at great speed.   As it hit him, he lost consciousness and was filled with the light of knowledge, with the gift of his own attunement, and understanding of Reiki healing.   He then knew of the meanings and use of the symbols which we now call the Reiki Symbols.  It is my belief that this was downloaded directly from Buddha, possibly Dainichi Nyori.


The Dogo/Clinics and the Usui Reiki Gakkai

There then followed a period when Usui developed Usui Reiki Ryoho (the Usui Healing Method).  Usui Reiki at first was very much in a Buddhist form, many of his original students were followers of Buddhism.   It was a spiritual practice and he was the only teacher (Shihan).  Usui’s standing as a healer grew quite rapidly as he opened a dojo/clinic of healing and training.   It is thought that he founded the Reiki Gakkai Society in April 1922.   It wasn’t until the turn of this century that we got to know about its existence through the diligent research of Frank Arjava Petter.  Some suggest that the Reiki Gakkai was founded by his students after he passed away, however it is written on his memorial stone that he was the first president of the Gakkai in 1922 and I go along with that.

In 1923 an earthquake shattered Tokyo and many thousands died.   Many more were injured and traumatised.   There was a great need of healers and this is when Mikao Usui was guided to realise that Reiki should be used for healing too, and should be available to everyone, not just to Buddhists.  He began to teach Shihan level to his foremost students in order that they too would teach and initiate students into Reiki.  He and his followers went out into the streets and gave healing to all those who needed help.
Usui’s fame spread rapidly and he was in great demand both as a healer and as a teacher, becoming known as Usui Sensei.

Sadly, Usui Sensei died from a stroke in Fukuyama, making the transition home on the 9th of March 1926, aged 62, having taught approximately 20 Teachers, and over two thousand students.

In February 1927 his students erected a monument to his honour at the Saihoji temple in the Toyotama region of Tokyo.   The inscription says the words were composed by Masayuki Okada and the calligraphy was done by Naval Rear Admiral Juzaburo Ushida:  

Usui MemorialUsui's Grave

 For the full version of the History of Usui Reiki Ryoho, including Dr Hayashi, Mrs Takata and her stories, please download my free ebook.


The Reiki Principles as Translated
From the Memorial Stone of Usui Sensei

The Gokai

Just for Today,                  Kyo dake wa

 I let go Anger                   Okoru-na

 I let go Worry                   Sinpai suna

 I am Grateful                    Kansha shite

 I Work hard                      Gyo o hage me

 I am Kind to Others         Hito ni shinsetsu ni