REIKI IN JAPAN
a New Perspective
Copyright © 2007 James Deacon
A different way of thinking about the growth of 'traditional' Reiki in Japan...
In 1985, New York journalist and Reiki teacher, Mieko Mitsui travelled
to Japan with the intent of doing some research into Reiki's origins.
there she began teaching classes in a particular style of Reiki
(a modified and augmented version of Usui Shiki Ryoho, as taught
by one of Takata-sensei's students: Barbara Ray), and as a result,
could be said to have been single-handedly responsible for sparking
a 'Reiki Revival' in Japan
beyond introducing the Japanese to this particular style of Reiki,
Mitsui also reported that she had made contact with other, pre-existing
Reiki Practitioners in Japan, and apparently had herself received
some training from at least one of them.
presence of these Reiki practitioners was naturally taken as proof
by Mitsui that Reiki had not died out in Japan, as had previously
is commonly hailed as being the first person to re-introduce Reiki
from the West to Japan - however there is one fact that she and
many others are clearly unaware of…
What follows is an extract from a recording of a talk given by
Takata-sensei at the Trinity Metaphysical Center, in Redwood,
California in 1976:
took Reiki out of Japan.
Last year I went back and I gave them the first degree, and they
are just crying for the second degree this year, so I am going
Next year, I shall go back to Japan and create ten Teachers.
And this is the way I'm going to return Reiki, back to
There will be Reiki Centres in Japan, and Masters there, and they
will take care of all the necessity and they will have many, many
Reiki students; and so, I do not have to go again.
And so … next year to Japan will be my last trip.
So, I will spend many months there"
Takata-sensei had re-introduced level one Reiki to Japan in 1975
may come as a great surprise to many.
it seems Takata-sensei never got the opportunity to return again
to Japan, as she had intended, to teach levels two and
reasons behind this are not clear, but possibly can be put down
at the time, the information had not been revealed to her students,
it later emerged that, sometime in 1975, Takata-sensei had had
a heart attack, so after this she was probably less inclined to
Yet, levels two and three aside, the simple fact that Takata-sensei
had initiated a number (how many exactly is unknown) of level
one Reiki practitioners in Japan - ten years before
Mitsui's visit, is in itself a revelation which, I feel could,
impact significantly upon the so-called 'new' history of Reiki:
Surviving Original Students of Usui-sensei's teachings?
in the late '90's that we began to hear rumours about a small
group of very elderly Japanese men and women.
It was claimed they were some of the original students...
that what they had been taught was something different from the
Reiki as introduced to Japan by Mieko Mitsui
that what they had been taught had not even been called
that the methods and practices they had been taught did not include
the use of the Reiki Symbols
that they had not even been shown the Reiki Symbols
in many cases, didn't even know of the Symbols' existence...
Well of course it is possible that these people were some
of the original students
not students taught by Usui-sensei, but
rather original Level 1 students, taught by Takata-sensei
the system taught by Takata-sensei was something different
from the Reiki as introduced to Japan by Mieko Mitsui
..[as mentioned above, the form of
Reiki introduced by Mitsui had been modified and augmented
by Barbara Ray]
and of course the system taught by Takata-sensei was not
. [but rather: "Usui Shiki Ryoho"]
and as for the Reiki Symbols:
..well of course the methods
and practices they had been taught did not include the use of
the Reiki Symbols
in those days, Level 1 students did not get to see the
in most cases, Level 1 students probably wouldn't even know that
there were any Reiki Symbols
the Reiki Symbols were a secret, not to be revealed to students
until Level 2
imagine the scenario, if you will:
reintroduces Reiki to Japan in 1975.
small handful of Japanese students are full of gratitude - having
been honoured to receive the 'spiritual gift' that is the Reiki
Initiation, and the accompanying 'first level' of training in
this sacred art...
they practice what they have been taught - mindfully developing
their skills and sensitivities - whilst eagerly awaiting the day
when Takata-sensei will return to assess their progress, and decide
if they are ready to receive the next stage in their training
- the second level.
that longed-for day does not arrive.
reasons un-beknown to the small group of Japanese students, Takata-sensei
does not return.
so they gradually come to the realisation that they are alone...
Over time, in their isolation, perhaps it is that several of these
Japanese students became disheartened, perhaps even move away
altogether from practice of Usui-sensei's art.
of a more determined spirit, perhaps attempted to develop beyond
what they had been taught - to move beyond the entry level teachings
(referred to as the "introductory course" by Takata-sensei).
being unaware as to what the next stage of training (the "intermediate
course") actually entailed - they found themselves somewhat
at a loss...
were they to do?
is quit feasable that [- as would happen in the West, not that
many years later] some of these Japanese students would have sought
to augment and advance their practice, understanding and perceptions
by adopting/integrating elements from other disciplines ,
and also perhaps would have sought inspiration by drawing on meditative
practices and other elements from their own particular spiritual
These things, combined with a little 'informed guesswork' and
intuition, and soon a 'reconstructed' version of Usui-sensei's
teachings gradually began to evolve...
how were they to pass on the spiritual blessing - the 'Reiki gift'
itself - to others?
level 1 students were of course unaware of the true nature of
the initiation process.
It was Takata-sensei's practice to confer initiation in a darkened
room; and during the proceedure the students eyes were closed.
Though, even had some of these Japanese students (as many others
in the West had done before them) given in to temptation and tried
to watch from under slightly raised eyelids, what would they have
seen as they sat in gassho, but fleeting glimpses of Takata-sensei,
moving to and fro, gesturing obscurely, at times breathing strangely
- there in the electrifying, silent darkness...
it was that in their quest for a process by which to confer the
'gift', someone happened upon a concept found within several of
the modernday spiritual groups often categorised as 'new religions'
- a means of giving and receiving a spiritual blessing - a process
referred to as reiju...
so, as a result of these Japanese students, integrating what little
they were aware of concerning the process of the original initiation
they themselves had received, with what they had discovered about
this other reiju blessing process, a 'Reiki reiju' was
born (- though something more visually akin to the seated Reiki
treatment method than to the original, formal, initiation
process Takata-sensei had used)
as on each of the four occasions they had met with Takata-sensei
[the four consecutive evenings over which the introductory level
course was held], they had received the blessing/initiation from
her, (and they had probably also been informed by her that the
second level would bring with it a deepening of the connection
with/awareness of Reiki ,)
it was not really that much of a leap for these enthusiastic Japanese
students to conclude that - had their training continued as originally
planned - then on every occasion that they met with Takata-sensei
they would have also received this 'blessing'.
so was born the idea of the regular, ongoing, receipt of this
'Reiki gift' this spiritual gift - this reiju...
a very short few years after Takata-sensei's passing, Reiki in
the West, had in many cases evolved far from the specific understandings
and practices as taught by Takata-sensei herself.
just how much 'Japanese Reiki' could have evolved in the ten years
between Takata-sensei returning Reiki to Japan in 1975 and Mitsui
'rediscovering' Reiki there when she visited in 1985?
Phyllis Furumoto has confirmed that no masters were created by
her grandmother in Japan in the 70's [on
a related note, we know that Takata-sensei went to Japan to visit
Hayashi-sensei's widow, Chie, in the early 1950's - so it is not
beyond the realm of possiblity that while she was there, she may have taught some Reiki
classes at that time as well.]
And even Level 2 students would probably be unaware that
there was a further Reiki Symbol taught at Level 3.
The majority would be under the impression that the Reiki system
only had three symbols in total...
For example, Johrei (- which, while externally perceived
as a form of hand-healing, is more properly considered to be a
form of spiritual purification. A means of spiritual development
first and foremost - healing being simply a side effect
of the Spiritual practice)
[And also further
methods to help facilitate changing bad habits for good, thus
improving mind and body]
Obviously they would have no way of knowing that it was
only as part of the 'introductory' training that the four initiations
(with their connection to the 'four soul aspects') were given,
and that they would have only received one further initiation
at each of the other two levels of training.