Translation of the
Usui Memorial at Saihoji Temple, Tokyo Japan
for the close-ups of the memorial inscription
© Copyright 1998-2011
Emiko Arai and Richard Rivard
-- Please feel free to share
this document with others others – as is, with no changes --
Since a friend in Japan sent us pictures
of the Usui memorial in the spring of 1996, we had been wanting to put
this web page up. Many other projects got in the way, and we didn't get
a good close-up of the monument until our friend Shiya Fleming brought
back some good photos in July 1997. Emiko and I spent several days going
through the old dictionaries she had, and I was very happy at the end to
compensate her with Reiki Mastership training for her part in the process.
Finally, I felt we had completed enough to present this to others.
This is a fairly literal translation of
the Usui memorial, as we wanted you, the reader, to get as close a rendition
to plain English as possible, without any paraphrasing. This allows you
to decide how you would rephrase sentences and paragraphs.
All comments in (brackets)
are either our translations of previous kanji (in quotations), or
our explanation of previous words. Please note: there are no periods or
paragraphs on the original, so we have added these in to make it easier
to read. Also, as in all translations, we had several choices of words
for each kanji, and tried to pick what we felt best, depending on the content.
Our thanks to Melissa Riggall and Miyuki Arasawa for their corrections
offered, and to later translations shared with me.
Although this location does contain the
remains of Usui Sensei’s wife – Sadako; son – Fuji; and daughter – Toshiko,
it only has a part of Sensei’s remains. The Saihoji site is not the original
resting place of the Usui family. The original grave site was set
up a year after Sensei’s death in a Tendai Buddhist graveyard near what
is now Nakano station. Then in 1960 the entire graveyard was moved
to the Saihoji Temple site in order to make wy for an extension to the
main subway line. This was confirmed by Saihoji Temple workers in
2009. Sensei’s living students (there
were several at the time of this writing in 1998) said he was a
Tendai Buddhist all his life (the Saihoji temple is a Jodo
Shyu (Pure Land) Buddhist temple). There is also a small private
shrine elsewhere in Tokyo - donated by an Usui doka (student)
- that holds some of the original remains of Usui, as well
as the original Usui Concepts (Precepts)
hanging, and the original large photo portrait of Sensei taken by Dr. Hayashi
(who was an amateur photographer). This was set up
shortly after his death in 1926.
Please share this information with all,
but we ask you to leave this introduction portion and copyright with it.
For pictures and location of the memorial, please visit my Saihoji
(I would like to express my gratitude to
all those who have offered changes and corrections to the translation)
===== translation begins =====
"Reihou Chouso Usui
Sensei Kudoko No Hi"
Memorial of Reiki Founder
Usui Sensei's Benevolence
kanji at the top of the memorial reads, from right to left: "Reihou"
- spiritual method, Reiki method; "Chouso" - founder; "Usui";
"Sensei" - teacher; "Kudoku" - benevolence, a various (pious)
deed; "no Hi" - of memorial, a tombstone, a monument - this is also what
the first line in the main text says).
It is called 'toku'
that people experience by culture and training, and 'koh' that people practice
teaching and the way to save people. ('koh' + 'toku'= 'kudoku;
Kou = distinguished service, honor, credit, achievement; Toku = a virtue,
Only the person who
has high virtue and does good deeds can be called a great founder and leader.
From ancient times, among wisemen, philosophers, geniuses and ? (a
phrases that means - very straight and having the right kind of integrity),
the founders of a new teaching or new religion are like that.. We could
say that Usui Sensei was one of them.
Usui "Sensei" (literally
"he who comes before", thus teacher, or respected person) newly
started the method that would change mind and body for better by using
universal power. People hearing of his reputation and wanting to learn
the method, or who wanted to have the therapy, gathered around from all
over. It was truly prosperous. (by "therapy" is meant the
Usui Reiki Ryoho - Usui ancestral remedy - of his Usui-Do teachings, including
the 5 principles.)
Sensei's common name
is Mikao and other name was Gyoho (perhaps his spiritual
name). He was born in the Taniai-mura (village)in
the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture (Taniai is now part
of Miyama Village). His ancestor's name is Tsunetane Chiba (a
very famous Samurai who had played an active part as a military commander
between the end of Heian Period and the beginning of Kamakura Period (1180-1230).
However Hirsohi Doi revealed at URRI 2000 that Tsunetane was a son
of Tsuneshige, who was 1st son of Tsunekane, and that Usui Sensei is descended
from Tsuneyasu, the 3rd son of Tsunekane.) His father's name
was Uzaemon (this was his popular name; his given name was
Taneuji ). His mother's maiden name was Kawai.
Sensei was born in
the first year of the Keio period, called Keio Gunnen
on August 15th. From what is known, he was a talented and hard working
student. His ability was far superior. After he grew up, he traveled to
Europe, America and China to study (yes, it actually says
that!). He wanted to be a success in life, but couldn't achieve
it; often he was unlucky and in need. But he didn't give up and he disciplined
himself to study more and more.
One day he went to
Kuramayama to start an asceticism (it says "shyu gyo" - a
very strict process of spiritual training using meditation and fasting.)
On the beginning of the 21st day, suddenly he felt one large Reiki over
his head and he comprehended the truth. At that moment he got Reiki "Ryoho"
term originally meant ancestral remedy or therapy.)
When he first tried
this on himself, then tried this on his family, good results manifested
instantly. Sensei said that it is much better to share this pleasure with
the public at large than to keep this knowledge to our family
was customary to keep such knowledge in the family to increase their power).
In April of the 11th year of the Taisho period (1922)
he moved his residence to Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo. (this
is next to the Meiji Outer Gardens and the huge Aoyama Cemetery.)There
he founded "Gakkai." (a learning society) He
taught Reiki Ryoho. (According to his student Tenon-in, who
in 2003 is 106, Sensei was teaching his spiritual method simply called
"his method," referred to by his students as "Usui-Do." It was based upon
the concepts he wrote called Usui Reiki Ryoho. )People came from
far and near and asked for the guidance and therapy, and many shoes lined
up outside of the building. (In Japan you take your
shoes off at the door.)
In September of the
twelfth year of the Taisho period (1923), there were
many injured and sick people all over Tokyo because of the Kanto earthquake
and fire. Sensei felt deep anxiety. Everyday he went around in the city
to treat them. We could not count how many people were treated and saved
by him. During this emergency situation, his relief activity was that of
reaching out his hands of love to suffering people. His relief activity
was generally like that. (Mr. Hiroshi Doi was told that Sensei
would actually lay on the ground and give Reiki from his hands and feet
to at least 4 people at time.)
After that, his learning
place became too small. In February of the 14th year of the Taisho period
he built and moved to a new one (a dojo or training hall)
Tokyo in Nakano. (Nakano is now part of Tokyo.) Because
his fame had risen still more, he was invited to many places in Japan,
often. In answering those requests, he went to Kure, then to Hiroshima,
to Saga and reached Fukuyama. (Fukuyama was also the location
of Sensei's creditors - his final trip was mainly to meet with them).
It was during his stay in Fukuyama that he unexpectedly got sick and died.
He was 62 years old. (In Western terms, Sensei was
60 - born August 15, 1865; died March 9, 1926 as per his
marker; however, in old Japan, you are "1" when born and turn another
year older at the start of the new year.)
His wife was from
Suzuki family; her name was Sadako. They had a son and a daughter. The
son's name was Fuji who carried on the Usui family
the property, business, family name, etc. Born in 1908 or 1909, at the
time of his father's death Fuji was 19 in Japanese years. We learned that
Fuji may have taught Reiki in Taniai village. According to the Usui
family grave stone, the daughter's name was Toshiko, and she died in September
23, 1935 at the age of 22 in Japanese years. Sensei also taught his wife's
niece who was a Tendai Buddhist Nun. As of this writing (2003) she is still
alive - approximately 108).
Sensei was very mild,
gentle and humble by nature. He was physically big and strong yet he kept
smiling all the time. However, when something happened, he prepared towards
a solution with firmness and patience. He had many talents. He liked to
read, and his knowledge was very deep of history, biographies, medicine,
theological books like Buddhism Kyoten (Buddhist bible)
and bibles (scriptures), psychology, jinsen no jitsu
hermit technique), the science of direction, ju jitsu (he
also learned Judo from Jigoro Kano, according to Tenon-in), incantations
"spiritual way of removing sickness and evil from the body"), the
science of divination, physiognomy
and the I Ching. I think that Sensei's training in these, and the
culture which was based on this knowledge and experience, led to the key
to perceiving Reiho (short for "Reiki Ryoho"). Everybody
would agree with me. (The origins of the Usui-Do system are
now known to be from Taoism and Shinto brought to Japan from China, probably
around the 5th century.)
Looking back, the
main purpose of Reiho was not only to heal diseases, but also to have right
mind and healthy body so that people would enjoy and experience happiness
in life. Therefore when it comes to teaching, first let the student understand
well the Meiji Emperor's admonitory, then in the morning and in the evening
let them chant and have in mind the five precepts which are:
First we say, today
don't get angry.
Secondly we say,
Third we say, be
Fourth we say, endeavor
Fifth we say, be
kind to people.
friend Emiko Arai was very firm about the above wording.)
This is truly a very
important admonitory. This is the same way wisemen and saints disciplined
themselves since ancient times. Sensei named these the "secret methods
of inviting happiness", "the spiritual medicine of many diseases" to clarify
his purpose to teach. Moreover, his intention was that a teaching method
should be as simple as possible and not difficult to understand. Every
morning and every evening, sit still in silence with your hands in prayer
chant the affirmations, then a pure and healthy
mind would be nurtured. It was the true meaning of this to practice this
in daily life, using it.
(i.e. put it into practical use)
This is the reason why Reiho became so popular. (see the
my document on the Usui Precepts for more on
Recently the world
condition has been in transition. There is not little change in people's
thought. (i.e. it's changing a lot) Fortunately, if
Reiho can be spread throughout the world, it must not be a little help
it's a big help) for people who have a confused mind or who do not
have morality. Surely Reiho is not only for healing chronic diseases and
The number of the
students of Sensei's teaching reaches over 2,000 people already (This
number may also include the students' students). Among them senior
students who remained in Tokyo are carrying on Sensei's learning place
and the others in different provinces also are trying to spread Reiki as
much as possible. (Dr. Hayashi took title to the dojo in
November, 1926 and together with Admiral Taketomi and Admiral Ushida, re-located
it to his clinic in Shinano Machi in 1926, and ran it as a hospice.)
Although Sensei died, Reiho has to be spread and to be known by many people
in the long future. Aha! What a great thing that Sensei has done to have
shared this Reiho, which he perceived himself, to the people unsparingly.
Now many students
converged at this time and decided to build this memorial at his family
temple in the Toyotama district (this was originally in a Tendai graveyard
near what is now Nakano station. The grave sites were all moved to
the Saihoji Temple in 1960 in order to make way for an extension of the
main subway line) to make clear his benevolence and to spread Reiho
to the people in the future. I was asked to write these words. Because
I deeply appreciate his work and also I was moved by those thinking to
be honored to be a student of Sensei, I accepted this work instead of refusing
to do so. I would sincerely hope that people would not forget looking up
to Usui Sensei with respect . (The location of the burial
plot and memorial may have been the work of the Admirals and the URR Gakkai.
Usui Sensei was confimed by his living students Tenon-in and Suzuki-sensei
to have been a devout Tendai until his death. Yet the Saihoi temple
is a Pure Land sect or Jodo Shu Buddhist temple.)
Edited by "ju-san-i"
third rank, the Junior Third Court (Rank) -- an honorary title),
Doctor of Literature, Masayuki Okada.
strokes) by Navy Rear Admiral, "ju-san-i kun-san-tou ko-yon-kyu"("subordinate
third rank, the Junior Third Court (Rank), 3rd order of merit, 4th
class of service" -- again, an honorary title) Juzaburo Ushida
Second Year of Showa
===== end of translation =====
(if copying the translation, please
include all the text above this,
including the introduction. Thanks.)
For a different perspective, there
is a another version of the translation taken from Arjava Petter's book,
Fire, at William
Rand's web site , and in Mr. Hirosh Doi's Book Modern
Reiki Method for Healing.
The symbol on the left appears on the front of the Usui Family tombstone.
This is a symbol of Bodhisattva Myoken and Usui/Chiba clan's family crest.
The large circle represents the universe and the small circle is a star
- Hokutoshichisei (the Great Bear, the Plow/Plough, The North Star). In
ancient times it was believed the universe moved around the north or pole
Toshitane Chiba-Usui sensei's ancestor
and famous Samurai warlord, captured the city of "Usui" in 1551.
When his son succeeded the family after his death, he changed the family
name to Usui.
Tsutane (Tsunetane) Chiba was the seventh
generation in the Chiba family line, and he formed a style of fencing that
became known as the Hokushin Itto Ryu Style (North Star Style of the Sword).
This style became so famous that it was soon-and still is today-one of
the three greatest styles of fencing in Japan and throughout the world.
This style has transcended generations, becoming a legend in Japanese history.
Please see the Houston Budokan page on the Chiba style of Kendo at http://houstonbudo.com/CHIBA.HTM
NOTE: At the URRI 2001 Workshop
in Kyoto, Japan - Mr. Hiroshi Doi presented a detailed Usui family ancestor
chart, which depicted that Tsunetane is NOT the ancestor of Usui
family. Tsunetane was a son of Tsuneshige, who was 1st son of Tsunekane.
Usui Sensei is descended from Tsuneyasu, the 3rd son od Tsunekane.
For the complete ancestor chart, click on this Reiki
Thanks to Reiki Master Amy Dean
for the information on the symbol.