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A Brief History of Reiki

The Usui System of Reiki Healing was developed by Mikao Usui in Japan in 1920 or 1921.  Through study, research, and deep meditation, he evolved a system of healing based on ancient Buddhist teachings.  He learned how to transmit healing energy using his hands and how to teach others to do it as well.  He devoted the rest of his life to offering treatments and to teaching others how to do what he called “Reiki.”  Rei means universal life force and ki means personal energy; universal energy passes through personal energy.  Dr. Usui opened a clinic in Tokyo in 1921 and by 1925 the popularity of his clinic had grown to the extent that he had to relocate to a larger establishment.  Mikao Usui died suddenly in 1926 at the age of 61, leaving behind thousands of Reiki students including many Reiki Masters (those who can teach others). 

One of the people that Usui trained to be a Reiki Master was named Chujiro Hayashi.  Hayashi, a retired Navy captain, was looking for something to do with the next phase of his life when he met Usui and learned Reiki.  He had a very busy clinic in Tokyo; treatments were given on 10 tables in a large room, with two practitioners at each table. 

In 1935 a very sick woman named Hawayo Takata arrived at Hayashi’s clinic for treatment.  Mrs. Takata had been born in Hawaii of Japanese parents in 1900.  She grew up there, met and married her husband, and had two daughters.  Her husband died in 1930, leaving her to raise the children on her own.  She became very ill from overwork and exhaustion.  She needed surgery and was advised by the doctor that she might not survive the operation.  She chose to go to Japan for the procedure so that her daughters would be with her parents should she not survive.  During preparation for surgery, Mrs. Takata heard a voice telling her repeatedly that the surgery was not necessary.  Upon further inquiry, she discovered that there was another option – Reiki, which did not involve either drugs or surgery.

The next day she arrived at Dr. Hayashi’s clinic and had her first of several months of Reiki treatments.  She gradually healed and became intensely interested in this curious treatment.  Eventually Dr. Hayashi agreed to teach her and she stayed in Japan to practice Reiki under his supervision for a year.  At the end of her year of internship, Dr. Hayashi trained her as a level 2 practitioner and she returned home to Hawaii.  In Hawaii, she began giving Reiki treatments, word spread rapidly that this woman could do wonderful things with her hands, and before long she had a thriving practice. 

In 1937 Dr. Hayashi and his daughter arrived in Hawaii for a six month visit with Mrs. Takata, during which time Dr. Hayashi trained her as a Reiki Master.  Dr. Hayashi chose to make his transition prior to Japan’s entry into World War II.  He had been devoting his life to peace and healing and would not be able to answer his country’s call to active duty in the Navy.  Neither could he refuse it honorably; so he chose to leave this life at the age of 62.

Mrs. Takata maintained a very busy Reiki clinic in Hawaii; people came from far and wide for Reiki treatment and she was invited to give talks, demonstrations and Reiki classes all around Hawaii.  In 1973, she was invited to teach a class on an island off the coast of Washington state.  Thus began her travels to teach Reiki throughout the United States and in Canada.  Eventually it became obvious to her that more teachers were necessary since so many people wanted to learn this gentle healing art.  Before her transition in 1980, she initiated 22 people as Reiki Masters.  They are the following:

George Araki Harru Kuboi
Dorothy Baba Ethel Lombardi
Ursula Baylow Barbara McCullough
Rick Bockner Mary McFadyen
Patricia Bowling Paul David Mitchell
Barbara Brown Bethel Phaigh
Fran Brown Shinobu Saito
Phyllis Lei Furumoto Virginia Samdahl
Beth Gray Wanja Twan
John Harvey Gray Barbara Weber Ray
Iris Ishikuro Kay Yamashita

Mrs. Takata brought Reiki from Japan to the west; the 22 people that she trained as Reiki Masters have helped to spread Reiki to every country in the world.