The history of Reiki dates back to ancient times when various medical practices, including Chinese Traditional Medicine, reached Japan during the 8th-9th centuries. These practices introduced the concepts of the human energy system, such as Tan Tien and Meridians, and Chinese Qi Gong, known as Kiko in Japan. They were integrated into Japanese culture alongside existing practices like Shi-atsu and Te-a-te, which also utilized energy and finger pressure.
One significant figure in Reiki's history was Usui Sensei, also known as Mikao or Gyoho. He was born in Taniai-mura (now part of Miyama village) in the Yamagata district of Gifu Prefecture in 1865. Usui Sensei was a diligent student with remarkable abilities, but he faced setbacks and challenges in achieving success. Seeking answers, he embarked on an ascetic journey to Kurama yama, where he practiced a rigorous form of meditation and fasting called 'shyu gyo' kushu shinren or Zazen Shikan Taza.
On the 21st day of his asceticism, Usui Sensei experienced a transformative moment when he felt a mysterious atmosphere over his head and attained the understanding of Reiki 'Ryoho,' which originally meant ancestral remedy or therapy. Upon using Reiki on himself and his family, he witnessed immediate positive results. Inspired to share this newfound knowledge with the world, he moved to Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo, in 1922 and founded a learning society called 'Gakkai.' Here, he taught Reiki Ryoho, also known as "Usui-Do," based on his principles written in Usui Reiki Ryoho.
Usui Sensei's reputation as a healer grew, and he traveled throughout Japan to help people, particularly during the Kanto earthquake and fire in 1923. His relief efforts were marked by reaching out with love and offering Reiki to those in need. As his following increased, he established a new training hall (dojo) in Nakano, Tokyo, in 1925, due to space limitations.
Tragically, Usui Sensei unexpectedly fell ill during his stay in Fukuyama and passed away in 1926 at the age of 62 (according to Western age reckoning). He left behind his wife Sadako, son Fuji, and daughter Toshiko. His teachings extended beyond his family, including his wife's niece, Suzuki San, a Tendai Buddhist Nun.
Usui Sensei was known for his gentle and humble nature, and he had a wide range of interests and knowledge, from history and medicine to various spiritual practices like Buddhism and divination. His training and cultural background likely contributed to his understanding of Reiho (Reiki Ryoho), which originated from Taoism and Shinto and arrived in Japan from China around the 5th or 6th century.
After Usui Sensei's passing, the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai was established as a memorial organization composed of his students and friends who aimed to preserve his teachings. Reiki, as developed by Usui Sensei, combined elements of Usui-Do and Teate to create a spiritual and philosophical path focused on living a harmonious life without anger or worry. The system encompassed meditative practices for spiritual growth and hand healing techniques for self-healing of the mind, body, and spirit.
It is essential to note that in more recent times, certain aspects of Reiki's history were altered by Hawayo Takata, a Reiki teacher attuned by Chujiro Hayashi, who was attuned by Usui. These modifications were made to make Reiki more appealing to the Western audience amid anti-Japanese sentiments during World War II. The changes included associating Usui's religion with Christianity and adding standard hand positions to the practice's levels to discourage reliance on intuition, which was viewed differently in the West. When Reiki reached America new age concepts were added and angelic ideas.
However, at Kikoh Reiki the core principles and teachings of Reiki remain rooted in the legacy of Usui Sensei and the healing practice he founded.
The Original Reiki Handbook of Mikao Usui - Frank Arjava Petter
The Japanese Art of Reiki - Bronwen and Frans Stiene