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A Quest for the Origin of "Reiki Healing"
Shiomi Takai
[Original article Copyright 1986 Shiomi Takai / "The Twilight Zone"]




This article comes from the April 1986 edition of a now defunct Japanese Metaphysical Magazine: "The Twilight Zone"

A number of pictures accompany the article. There is a photo of Usui Sensei, one of Barbara Ray (founder of The Radiance Technique), and one of Takata Sensei; as well as several of Mieko Mitsui giving Reiki treatments, and three photos of Fumio Ogawa.

Also shown are pictures of Fumio Ogawa's Reiki certificates and the Gokai (Reiki Precepts); and on the final page there is a picture of Barbara Ray's 'The Official Reiki Handbook' - which was translated into Japanese by Mieko Mitsui.


For readable versions of each page,
right-click on image and 'save link target as' to save image to desktop before opening

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Editor's Mysterious Experience Report #28:

A quest for the origin of "Reiki Healing"
What is 'Usui-style Reiki healing'?
Report by Shiomi Takai

English Version, Copyright 2004 James Deacon
[Translation (especially for AETW.org) by

Hoshi Ito, Sadako Yamamoto & Sho Yoshizaki

Recently in the USA there has been a boom in popularity of 'Reiki Healing'. This healing method - utilising 'cosmic energy' - originated in Japan and has now been re-imported into Japan.

This reporter went on the quest for the roots of this mysterious spiritual technique.

Reiki was introduced from Japan to the USA

It is claimed that 'Reiki' can heal illness by just holding the hands at specific points on the body's surface. It is also said to purify food and water.

As this healing method, which utilises cosmic energy, has previously appeared twice (09/84 and 07/85) in this magazine many readers might recognise the name.

Last December, I had an opportunity to interview Reiki Master Mieko Mitsui, who had returned (to Japan) for a short visit.

"In 1978, I went to the USA. I had, up till then, worked as an editor for a publisher - I worked without rest, 365 days a year. Then one day I had enough and decided to go to the USA to devote time to my own studies.

Since childhood I have not been physically very strong, and on top of that, due to the stress of long arduous working days in Japan and the change of lifestyle in the USA, my health had suffered.

It was then I encountered Reiki. For the first time in my life, thanks to Reiki, I experienced a happy life, free from physical discomfort."

Mitsui sensei studied Reiki eagerly from then on, becoming a Reiki Master after six months. It is my understanding that this is an unusually rapid achievement in the USA.

There were two main reasons for this visit (to Japan). Firstly, to spread Reiki Healing in Japan, the country of its origin. Secondly, to search for the origins of Reiki.

According to the handbook published by The American International Reiki Association Inc, the person who developed Reiki Healing was Japanese: Dr Mikao Usui.

This was then introduced to the USA by a Japanese Hawaiian, Hawayo Takata. The present head of Reiki Healing in the USA, Dr Barbara Ray, was apparently initiated by Mrs Takata.

Despite its origins, Reiki Healing is virtually unknown in Japan. Each time Mitsui sensei returned to Japan, she searched for its roots. After a long search, last December when she returned, Mitsui sensei obtained two major pieces of information.

One was the location of Dr Usui's tomb, and the other was the discovery of a pamphlet which had probably been handed to Reiki Seminar attendees, and a certificate.

Without wasting any time, Mitsui sensei visited the Saihoji Temple in Nakano-ku, Tokyo, where there was a large tomb for Dr Usui, bearing an inscription.

This is an outline of the inscription:

Dr Usui's full name was Mikao Usui. He was born on 15th August 1865 in Yago-mura (now Miyama-cho), Yamagata-gun, Gifu prefecture. From an early age, he studied hard while supporting himself and later visited the USA, Europe and China.

One day, he had a strong desire to climb Kurama Yama in Kyoto. After 21 days of rigourous spiritual discipline, he discovered Reiki Healing. Realising the great significance of this healing method, in 1922, he established a Society in Harajuku-ku (Harajuku district), Tokyo. It was filled with people who heard of the effect of this healing.

In 1923, there was a great earthquake affecting Tokyo and the surrounding area, Dr Usui used to visit many places in Tokyo to heal the sufferers. Unexpectedly, this helped to publicise Reiki Healing at that time. Probably because of this popularity, the training centre in Harajuku became too small and they moved to Nakano-ku in February 1925.

While returning from a trip to Kure, Hiroshima and Saga for recruitment of masters, Dr Usui fell ill in Fukuyama, Hiroshima prefecture and died. It was 9th March 1926 and Dr Usui was 61 years old.

The inscription ended with the words: "by Masayuki Okada, Juzaburo Ushida, February 1927".

Obtaining the address of Dr Usui's family, Mitsui sensei, visited them, however they refused to see her.
Via an intercom at the gate, Dr Usui's son's wife told her: "Because of instructions from the father in his will, we have nothing to do with the healing".

According to the temple, some flowers are placed at Dr Usui's tomb on the 9th day of every month but nobody knows whom they are from.

Fortunately, Mitsui sensei met a person with some connection to Dr Usui when she held a Reiki seminar in Shizuoka.

This was one of the people attending the seminar - a Mr Mochizuki from Shizuoka. His wife's father, Mr H.I., had attended a Reiki Healing seminar in Shizuoka and held a healer's qualification.

Mr H.I. was a headmaster of primary school at the time, and, as an educator,he must have appreciated this healing method.

An old (Reiki Healing Society) handbook, which is now in Mitsui sensei's possession, contains rules for members, dogma, healing guidelines and poems by the Meiji emperor. In the healing guidelines section, it explains the basic healing method in detail as well as methods for healing disorders including those of the digestive and nervous systems.

I have now decided to take over the research of following Dr Usui's trail from Mitsui sensei who has gone back to the USA.

I contacted Mr Mochizuki and he introduced me to Mr Fumio Ogawa in Shizuoka. Mr Ogawa's late father, Keizo Ogawa was one of the officials listed in the handbook (called the 'Reiki Healing Regulations') and initiated Mr H.I. mentioned earlier.

I was intrigued to discover that Mr Fumio Ogawa is also a master - and had received 'reiju'. This was the first time I had heard the word "reiju.

At present in the USA, Reiki training involves several steps. The First Degree is the beginners' course. The second degree includes distant healing. The highest level is the third degree, divided to part A and part B, and when both have been studied, one can receive the qualification of Reiki Instructor.

Compared with this, however, the course Dr Usui established was far more arduous. The course was divided into 6 levels with the 6th degree being the beginner level. After the 3rd degree (i.e. 4th level), the next was called Okuden first half and then came Okuden final half. At this stage, a chosen few would receive the yet higher level - the 'Mysterious Initiation'.

'Reiju' is what is conferred on those chosen few and not necessarily just once, sometimes it was given more than once.

"It is difficult to grasp the meaning of 'Reiju' from the (meaning of the individual) characters, but it would be fair to think it means "opening the channel to receive the cosmic energy", said Mr Ogawa.

"Regarding 'Reiju', there is an unwritten rule that nobody should talk about it, so I am afraid I cannot tell you what it is. But I can say this that there used be meetings called 'Reijukai' where the people who had studied to the highest level gathered, and 'Reiju' was conferred on them.

It was not difficult to become a member. If you attended Reiki Healing lectures that were organised in various places, paying a fee of between 500 to 1000 yen, then you were a member.

Enthusiastic people attended every meeting and studied hard themselves. When that was recognized, they were allowed to have 'Reiju' conferred on them. But I remember that even if they could heal themselves, it was extremely rare that they reached the level of healing others.

Also, there were only three people who had 'Reiju' conferred on them by Dr Usui directly. They were Mr Taketomi Seiichi (or Kanichi?) who became the second president after Dr Usui's death, the third president Mr Yoshiharu Watanabe and the fourth president Mr Toyokazu (Hoichi?) Wanami."

I am wondering what this 'mysterious initiation'- actually an elite training course - really is.

"When one received the 'mysterious initiation', one would be aware of the client's problems without asking him. The illness lines would appear on the healers hand and he would understand what state the client was in.

The 'mysterious initiation' would include three parts: a blood changing method, a character healing method and distant healing - for which photographs were used."

Mr Ogawa provided me with one more important piece of information. He said that the Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Reiki Healing Society) - which was considered to have become extinct - still continues to exist in Tokyo.

I attempted to contact a lady who was the sixth president of the Usui-shiki Reiki Ryoho Kenkyukai (Usui-style Reiki Healing Research Society). Although an interview was refused, I was lucky to obtain a little more information from her.

Suffering from damage during the war, the Reiki Gakkai headquarters was moved from place to place.

Several members have left the Gakkai and established unique teachings or became founders of newly arisen spiritual groups.

Also, Dr Usui once seems to have been a secretary to Mr Shimpei Goto.

This latter part is important. In the American Reiki handbook, Dr Usui is supposed to have been the headmaster of Christian theological school in Kyoto. But according to Mitsui sensei's research, no such school exists in Kyoto, and, moreover, my own research did not reveal a "Christian" Dr Usui. Mitsui sensei thinks the school may possibly have been a small private establishment but I wonder what the reality was.

Here I should explain about Mr Shimpei Goto. He was born in Iwate prefecture in 1857 and after graduating from medical school in Fukushima prefecture, worked in the Ministry of Health, becoming head of the Ministry in 1891.

During the Sino-Japanese war, he was in charge of the army quarantine office. In 1899 he became Director of the civil administration of Taiwan, and in 1908 president of the Manchurian Railway. After that, he was appointed Communications Minister, Railway President, Minister of the Interior, Minister for Foreign Affairs - and finally he became the Mayor of Tokyo. He died in 1920.

It is not at all clear when Dr Usui was a secretary to Mr Goto but if it is a fact, this position must have been very helpful when it came to meeting influential people.

But still the mystery remains.

According to the snippets of information I gathered, Dr Usui had several faces - a company employee, a businessman, and so on - but none of them were connected to healing. So what led him to become a spiritual healer?

What I would like to do now is to look at just what kind of times Dr Usui lived in.

From the Meiji era to the early part of the Showa era, while the established religions were losing power, many new spiritual leaders appeared on the scene.

Amongst them were, Tennen Kuwahara, and Morihei Tanaka, the founder of Taireido. These especially are said to have had 'spiritual skill' / 'spiritual power' ('reijutsu') and attracted many followers. Onisaburo Deiguchi of Daihonkyo [Oomoto kyo] and Mokichi Okada, the founder of Sekaikyuseikyo are also seen as 'great lights' who shone around that time.

So, which spiritual healer would have influenced Dr Usui? The likeliest possibility could have been Morihei Tanaka, as he was from Tajimi city, where he established the Taireido headquarters. This was also close to Miyama-cho where Dr Usui was born.

Tanaka was said to practice "Reishi jutsu" which is a kind of life energy theory and healed many people successfully. Skillful practitioners were supposed to be able to see through the body just like an X-ray.

This is only a presumption but it is likely that Dr Usui may have taken an interest in Tanaka who became rather well known around 1918.

However, Tanaka was quite a Nationalist but Dr Usui seemed to have been of a more liberal type. One of the reasons for that was that Dr Usui had Naval officers amongst the members (of the Society). The Naval officers had knowledge about the world (the Japanese were still mainly very insular at this time) and tended to be more progressive.

What kind of man was Dr Usui? After our research, it is still not clear.

What is the truth of the 'mysterious initiation' which it is forbidden to talk about?

What is the lineage of the spiritual healing traditions that influenced Reiki healing?

These things are all still unknown.

Our research has just started.

In the hope that readers might be able to contribute some information, I close this first report of this subject.



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