The information presented here is as current as I am able to obtain. However it could be revised at any given time depending on what is newly shared from sources in Japan.
The Usui Dojo
(source: Dave King)
there was a simple place for the Shinto misogi
practice of temizu - the cleansing
of the hands and mouth using a dipper
and water from a container. Then, you would remove
your shoes and leave them outside before entering the dojo.
Note that the bowing might also be done while standing. The politeness of bowing was also executed between doka when they were given a kata exercise to practice. Each time they would get off their zabuton and gyo bow to their partner before and after the exercise. When class was over, students would again shin bow to Sensei and to the Tokonoma before leaving the dojo.
Doka were seated in seiza style on their zabuton. They were in pairs of rows running from the front of the dojo to the back. There were up to 4 doka in a row and each pair of rows faced each other. The doka opposite you would be your partner for any exercises. In the smaller dojo there were sometimes 2 sets of rows (thus 4 lines of doka). The senior doka would sit closest to the front of the dojo. Sensei would sit at the front of the class and teach from there.
In 1923 Sensei moved the dojo to a larger premise in the Nakano district which at the time was outside the city. The dojo was now about twice the size as before.
The Original Use of the Term "Reiki Ryoho"
At the recent URRI 2003 conference in Denmark, Mr. Hiroshi Doi-sensei explained the use of the word "Reiki" as used by founder Mikao Usui Sensei. He said:
"The word "reiki" is used often by spiritual therapists during (the) Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1925) and early Showa (1926-1988) Era. Many people used the word "reiki ryoho" to refer to their therapies, and "reiki ryoho" is not original with Usui Sensei. The name Usui Sensei used was "Usui Reiki Ryoho."
"The first person to use the term "reiki ryoho" was Mataji Kawakami, who was a therapist, who published "Reiki Ryoho to sono Koka" (Reiki Ryoho and its Effects) in 1919. However, today the term "reiki ryoho" almost exclusively refers to "Usui Reiki Ryoho.""
Usui Reiki Ryoho - the Original Meaning
The term Usui
originally refered to the affirmations or conceps within the Gainen, also called
Gokai by the URR Gakkai. If you look at the original wall hanging
and a translation, it reads something like this (explanations are in
According to Tenon-in, the oldest surviving Usui student, the affirmations were brushed by O-Sensei (Usui) in April 1921, 4 years before the creation of the palm healing system taught by the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (society).
Another interesting note about the affirmations is that they actually help to define the term "Reiki" as used by O-Sensei. If you have assisted with translation of Japanese material you will know that you cannot simply look up Japanese words in a dictionary and get an accurate meaning. Their true meaning depends on the context in which they are used. For many years people have simply defined "Reiki" by the independent translation of the words "rei" and "ki."
In 1995/96 Dave King and Melissa Riggall met a senior student of Dr. Hayashi named Tatsumi. He had trained with Hayashi-sensei from 1927 to 1931, completing the hand healing system as well as the original Usui-Do spiritual system to the highest levels (beyond what we think of as Shinpiden, to Shichidan).
Melissa actually lived with the Tatsumi family for a month and learned the complete Usui-Do system. Both she and Dave were granted the highest level of Shichidan. One day Melissa pointed to a photo of the original affirmations in Tatsumi-san's house. She noted the term "Reiki" and said that this was how the West referred to the hand healing system. Tatsumi-san said that the healing was simply referred to as te-ate (hand healing), and that by using the term "reiki," O-Sensei had been referring to his ancestors.
Dave explained "Usui Reiki Ryoho" in more detail to me saying "More accurately 'Usui therapy for connecting with your ancestral self'"
For more detail on this Reiki Fact see Usui Reiki Ryoho - the Original Meaning
The system of Reiki we now practice in the West actually comes out of 3 Japanese sources, all of which were influenced heavily by the Usui-Do system taught by Mikao Usui. These are Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai and Tenohira Ryoji Kenkyu-kai.
In the final years of his life, Usui Sensei was teaching his personal spiritual system, Usui-Do, which by this time included several levels of achievement, the naming convention having been influenced by Sensei's good friend Jigoro Kano, the founder of Japanese Judo. The levels were rokyu, gokyu, yankyu, sankyu, nikkyu (#1 symbol), ikkyu (#2), shodan (#3), nidan (#4), sandan, yondan, godan, rokudan, shichidan (nanadan)
Another influence in his life was his friend Toshihiro Eguchi who had his own hand healing methods, and who often taught some of these ideas in the Usuidojo (Usui training hall). Eguchi-sensei later had his own school called Eguchi Tenohira Ryoji Kenkyu-kai
Eguchi-sensei and Hayashi-sensei (founder of Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai) were the only 2 students to complete the original Usui-Do training (Shichidan level) and for many years they continued to offer this system to some students along with their own Reiki systems. Women were traditionally not allowed to attain the highest levels in Japan but the 2 nuns who worked with Usui Sensei from 1920 to 1926 reached the 2nd highest level of Rokudan. One of these is Tenon-in (Mariko-Obaasan), who is over 105 years old.
When several navy admirals (including Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai founders Ushida-sensei and Taketomi-sensei) joined Usui Sensei's classes in 1925 there was a sudden shift in the class structure. Perhaps due to their social standing they had more sway in the dojo, but a new system of personal energy work began to emerge alongside Usui-Do.
The new system included Eguchi-sensei's hand healing concepts and his energy transfer ceremony (which Usui Sensei found to be of a religious tone) and the admirals were calling this Usui Reiki Ryoho (a phrase from the original Usui concepts or precepts). They also began these meetings with some Meiji Emperor poetry (gyosei) - probably to make the meetings appear loyalist and not religious (which was outlawed at the time of the Taisho emperor.) They added a healing guide for beginner students (by Hayashi-sensei) to their material, as well as a number of Tui-na and Qi-gong or Kikou techniques that Eguchi-sensei had introduced from a booklet he had produced.
After Usui Sensei's passing in 1926, Usui-Do seemed to slowly slip from the limelight as the new society Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai began to grow in numbers. The spiritual concepts were retained to some degree, but mainly taught to the advanced members, with personal healing through "Reiki" being encouraged on the novice. After 1931 Hayashi-sensei, who had by then left the URR Gakkai, no longer seemed to teach the original inner system of Usui-Do, although he had conferred Shichidan status on at least 12 students, including Tatsumi-san (1927-31). Eguchi-sensei also left the URR Gakkai (even before Hayashi-sensei) but he continued to teach both systems and one of his Shichidan graduates was Yuji Onuki-san (1926-30). The system that Hawayo Takata-sensei learned from Hayashi-sensei (1935-38) was a much revised version he was teaching at that time.
Dave King and Melissa Riggall of the Usui-Do Eidan received Rokudan from Onuki-san in 1971, Shichidan from Tatsumi-san in 1996 and Godan (3rd highest level) from Tenon-in in October 2002, the latter giving them a direct spiritual connection to Usui Sensei through her.
Note: Melissa Rigall made her transition on March 12, 2003. She and her contributions to Reiki will be greatly missed. Click here for a memorial page.
Sources: Dave King, George Mullen (who also received Godan from Onuki-san in 1971).
Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai
The society changed methods and procedures over the years, even the ceremony it used to bestow Reiki. But it continued on as a support group for Reiki practitioners. Currently membership is limited and by invitation only, but there was a time when the society had over 80 chapters with a Shihan (teacher) in charge of each. It is known that Ushida-sensei would sometimes hold 5 day training sessions (much like Hayashi-sensei used to) in the Kansai area, held at the estate houses of fruit growers who wished to sponsor classes for themselves and the local population. The classes would have been closer to the original Shodan format (not Shoden) which originally included much of what we think now of as Reiki 1 and 2.
During the war the society headquarters had to be moved around due to the bombing in Tokyo, and afterwards it seems some of the members became permanently disconnected. Gradually the 80 chapters (and Shihan) were reduced to the current 5 locations (and Shihan). So it seems a new Shihan is appointed only by attrition. He or she would be elevated from the honored Shinpiden status, which these days is now more of an honorary status conferred after about 40 years of Reiki experience. There are only 12 Shinpiden in the URR Gakkai at this time and around 500 members.
Many aspects of the society are still unknown but it is hoped that the current leaders (the 5 Shihan or teachers) will gradually open up a dialogue with Reiki practitioners outside their organization. Last year at URRI 2001 in Madrid, Mr. Hiroshi Doi (a URR Gakkai member) carried greetings to the participants from the current society president, Mr. Masaki Kondoh.
Several other Reiki Masters had schools in operation at the time of Usui Sensei's passing. These included Toshihiro Eguchi, founder of Tenohira Ryoji (hand healing) and Kaiji Tomita, founder of the Tomita Teate (hand healing) Ryoho. Some of Usui's students simply taught quietly on their own. Some of information from these sources is gradually reaching us outside of Japan.
Usui Sensei's Usual Way of Applying Reiki
He said that Sensei would use the Reiji technique to discover the area of greatest need for healing that was required by the patient. Then he would apply Reiki there, usually with one hand. He would extend his middle and ring finger together, forwards and downwards at an angle, using them as the main focus for the energy. His index and smallest fingers were extended straight out, to act as radiators to dispell any negative energy. The thumb was up and out.
(Note: Arjava Petter illustrated a version of this in his book The Original Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui)
In this way, Doi-sensei said, Usui Sensei would typically give 3 minute healings.
Today, the Tokyo Gakkai add the index finger together with the middle and ring fingers, and use the thumb and smallest finger as the radiators. However, Fumio Ogawa-sensei, shihan of the Shizouku branch of the Gakkai wrote that only the second joint of the middle finger is used when touching and that only one hand is used to apply Reiki except where 2 similar body parts are being treated (as in the lungs).
History of Usui Family (source: Usui family tree)
Usui Mikao is a descendant of Mitsukane.
The Birth Place/Town of Usui Mikao
Usui Torii -- Amataka Shrine
The Usui Concepts or Precepts originated with a source other than Mikao Usui Sensei.
"Usui Sensei created (the) Gokai (the 5 principles) getting hints from a book "Kenzon no Gebri" written by Dr. Suzuki Bizan (published in March, 1914.) The book says "Just for today, do not get angry, do not feel fear, be honest, work hard, and be kind to others."
(from Gendai Reiki Healing Training Text - Gendai Reiki-ho <Shinpiden>, Hiroshi Doi-sensei)
Ms. Chiyoko Yamaguchi (80 years old in 2000) who first learned Reiki from Dr. Chujiro Hayashi in 1938, told Sensei Hiroshi Doi that Dr. Hayashi did not teach her formal hand positions.
Western Reiki Masters, Melissa Riggall, who talked with another of Dr. Hayashi's students from 1939 (a Mrs. Kobayashi), said that the student ( who lives in Nara, Japan) also confirmed that Dr. Hayashi did not teach formal hand positions.
Melissa and Dave King received training from Dr. Hayashi's 1931 student, Mr. Tatsumi, before his passing in 1996. Again, he told them that no formal hand positions were taught in Dr. Hayashi's school.
However, there are some hand positions from an Eguchi lineage that ended up in the Vortex Reiki school in Japan. The positions are in the same location as those used in a meditative kata set taught by Usui Sensei and later his senior student, Eguchi..
It would seem that the standard 12 hand positions of Western Reiki were originated by Takata-sensei..
Dr. Hayashi would teach Reiki 1 and 2 on back to back days.
Healers Who Learned Reiki Ryoho
Eguchi learned Usui Reiki Ryoho from 1925 to 1927, and established "Tenohira Ryoji Kenkyu-kai (hand healing research center)". Famous students of Eguchi are Yasukiyo Eguchi, Kohshi Mitsui, and Goro Miyazaki. It was said that Eguchi had 500 thousand students.
Tomita learned Reiki around the year of 1925, and he established "Teate Ryoho-kai (hand healing center)" after Usui Sensei passed away. Tomita gave Reiki seminar of 4 levels, "Sho-den", "Chu-den", "Oku-den", and "Kai-den". Each level required 5 days (2 hours for each day) to be completed, but Kai-den required 15 days. The number of students were more than 200 thousand and his famous student is Jiro Asuke.
Other than the two famous healers stated above, there may exist several healers who established "new Reiki association" or who became "the founder of new religion". Currently, some religious groups practice hand healing but they do not touch people directly, because touching the body without license was regarded as contravention against the Medical Act. Usui Reiki Ryoho has not been regarded as contravention against the Medical Act, but they spread Reiki as "family treatment method by membership".
If you have comments or suggestions, Contact Me. I will try to answer them all.