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Reiki Facts

Last Updated: December 1, 2012
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.
(click on images for larger pictures)
 Original Use 
of the Term 
"Reiki Ryoho"
Usui Reiki Ryoho 
- the Original 
What is 
Usui Reiki
Ryoho Gakkai
Usui Sensei's 
Healing Method
Living Usui
Usui Torii
Amataka Shrine
Origin of
Hand Positions
Famous Reiki

The Usui Dojo
(source: Dave King)
Usui Sensei's training hall (dojo) was of medium size.  His dojo in the Aoyama district of Tokyo was a 12 mat dojo.  Tatami mats are roughly 3 feet by 6 feet so the size of the room would have been something like 12 feet by 18 feet.   The room was either attached to Sensei's dwelling or was a space he rented in another building. 

Before entering the dojo 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. 

shin bow
Once inside the dojo, the doka (student) would give a shin bow towards the tokonoma and then the same to Usui Sensei.  If there were other doka present then a gyo bow would be exchanged with the group.  Those already present would move off their zabuton (floor cushion) and give a gyo bow as well, before returning to their cushion. 
gyo bow

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.

The tokonoma is a small alcove in the wall that faces opposite to the entry way of the room. It holds a kakejiku (hanging scroll) and in the case of the Usui dojo, this was the original Gainen.

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 Reiki Ryoho originally refered to the affirmations or conceps within the Gainen, also called the Gokai by the URR Gakkai.  If you look at the original wall hanging and a translation, it reads something like this (explanations are in brackets):
The Secret Method Of Inviting Blessings 
The Spiritual Medicine of Many Illnesses
For today only (for this task or moment)
Anger not , 
Worry not (be not in a state of anger 
or worry - be in the moment)
With appreciation 
Do your work (karmic - live your life 
with gratitude)
Be kind to people (show empathy to 
yourself and others).
In your life, perform gassho
as your mind recalls (these concepts).
The Usui system for connecting with your ancestral self through the body-mind
The founder 
Mikao Usui
Handwritten Usui Precepts

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

Usuidojo Toronto
Dave King moved to China in November 2004 but still travels internationally to hold classes. He now lives in northern Hungary.  Laurie Anne King lives in Australia and may still hold a dojo there.

Take an Usui-Do journey -- View Dave and Laurie Anne's last Japan trip travel log

What is Usui-Do?
"Unity of self through harmony and balance"
(Usuidojo motto)

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
At the time of Usui Sensei's death, Reiki was becoming a bit more formalized in the form of a learning society called Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.  In 1926 the society was headed by retired Rear Admiral Juzaburo Ushida (also pronounced Gyuda).  He was assisted by other senior students of Usui Sensei including retired Rear Admiral Kan'ichi Taketomi and retired naval Captain Chuujuru Hayashi.

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
At the URRI 2001 Workshop in Madrid, Spain, Mr. Hiroshi Doi explained what the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai teaches as Usui Sensei's typical way of giving a Reiki treatment.

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).

In order to celebrate the 3rd ANNUAL URRI WORKSHOP in Madrid Spain in November 2001, here is something from the handout given by Hiroshi Doi-sensei at URRI 2000 in Kyoto, Japan.

History of Usui Family (source: Usui family tree)

  1. Emperor Kanmu  Katsurahara Shin'no  Takamioh  Takamochioh (ancestor of Kanmu-heishi)

  3. <Heishi family> Takamochioh  Yoshifumi (5th son)  Muraoka Kingoro  Tadayori Tadatsune  Tsunemasa (ancestor of Chiba family)

  5. <Chiba family> Tsunemasa  Tsunenao  Tsunekane  Tsuneyasu (3rd son) (ancestor of Usui family)
* The Usui Memorial has the name of Tsunetane Chiba. Tsunetane is NOT the ancestor of Usui family. He was a son of Tsuneshige, who was 1st son of Tsunekane.
  1. <Usui family> Tsuneyasu  Tsunekage  Yasutane Kanetane  Kaneo Tsunemasa  Kanenori  Yasutoshi  Kanemasa  Kanemaki (moved to Taniai Village)

  3. <Mino Usul family>Kanemaki  Kanetada  Kanenari  Kanehiro  Kanetoyo  Kanesuke  Kanehiro  Kanesato  Kaneshiro  Kanetsuna  Kanekatsu (2nd son) <Mitsukane, Kanenori, Masanobu, Kanezumi Masahide>
*5 sons of Kanekatsu became independent and they are called "the Five Usui Family." 
  Usui Mikao is a descendant of Mitsukane.

The Birth Place/Town of Usui Mikao

  1. Currently "Yamagata-gun Taniai-village" changed the name to "Yamagata-gun, Miyama-cho, Taniai" with the town and village combined 

  2. Miyama-cho
  1. Usui's house does not exist now, and a part of the land became houses and a timber dealer.
  1. Tsunekage succeeded to conquer the Mino area and he was given the area by Minamotono Yoritomo. Tsunekage built the Usui Castle (Tania Castle and Fort) here. Kanemaki erected a temple, Myojozan Komyoji, sacred to Myoken Bosatsu, on the top of close by mountain, but a big fire destroyed the temple. The castle does not exist now, but the stone wall and ruins are there. Further investigation is being waited.

  3. A woman (95 years old) of Usui Mikao's relative remembers Usui Mikao's mother; sister and brother but about Mikao, she said " I heard about Mikao and saw ' photos before, but have never met him" Usui Mikao left home in his youth and did not come back so often, so that few remember about him.

  5. There is a big Torii (shrine gate) which has name of Usui Mikao carved, in Amataka Shrine, close to Usui's home. The big stone Toril was donated by three Usul brothers in April 1923.

As of 2001 there were several of Usui Sensei's students who are still alive in Japan.
Dave King shared this with me and asked me to post the following at the urri@yahoogroups.com list.

"In 1971 Melissa Riggall and I studied the Usui system in depth (in Morocco)  with Yuji Onuki, a student of Eguchi. In 1994 Melissa and I visited Japan to meet with the grandson of Onuki. We were introduced to five elderly persons who had actually studied with Usui-sensei in Tokyo. One of these was a Tendai Buddhist nun who was born in the 29th year of Meiji (1897) and had trained with and assisted Usui-sensei from 1922 until 1926 and remembers his departure for Fukuyama. The nun confirmed that Usui had received Tendai training at an early age and remained Tendai all his life. She was not given printed handouts (photocopying at that time was in its infancy and paper sizes were not then standardized).

At a later visit I attended a Japanese Reiki (Vortex school) workshop given by Toshitaka Mochizuki in Tokyo. I then travelled on my railpass and chanced to meet a student of Hayashi named Tatsumi who studied until 1931. Details are available at http://www.usui-do.org.

Melissa returned to Japan later to await a permit to enter a restricted area of China to do research. She spent some time with Tatsumi and met further students of Usui, Hayashi and Eguchi during that time. We will be told when we can release information.

Last week (early May, 2001) we received permission from the nun to make her existence public. We hope that readers of this list respect the privacy of a 104 year-old woman in Holy Orders and make it clear that a source of information will be lost as a result."

Dave also said that the lady attained the 2nd highest level that Usui-sensei taught and she also knew Dr. Hayashi.

Usui's Daughter

When I visted the Saihoji Temple in November, 2000, I was surprised to find another inscription on the left side of the Usui Family grave stone (area in red).

The inscription indicated the passing of Ms. Toshiko Usui, daughter of Mikao and Sadako Usui, on September 23, 1935 at the age of 22 years (21 in Western years). 

Normally a married women's remains are buried at her husband's family site, while a non-married wormen would be with her family's site.

Usui Torii -- Amataka Shrine


Amataka Shrine
In Usui Sensei's home village there is a village shrine- Amataka.  The Torii at the entrance was erected in 1923 by Sensei and his family.   It mentions Uzaemon Usui, Mikao, his 2 younger brothers, Sanya and Kuniji, and his older sister, Tsuru.

According to one relative of the family who spoke with Doi-sensei, Sanya-san went on to become a doctor in Tokyo, and Kuniji-san became a policeman in Gifu prefecture.  She said Mikao-san left the village at an early age.   Sensei's son, Fuji Usui, became a teacher at Tokyo University.


Dedication Shelter
(Rick-san, Hyakuten-san, Tom-san)

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)

Dr. Hayashi did not teach formal hand positions.

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.
Ms. Chiyoko Yamaguchi (80 years old) learned Reiki from Dr. Chujiro Hayashi in 1938 and was allowed to teach Reiki.  Recently Sensei Hiroshi Doi took Reiki training from her (May  2000) and was given permission to teach the Hayashi-sensei material.  Yamaguchi Sensei taught Shoden and Okuden (Reiki 1 and 2) one month and then Shinpiden the following month.  She taught this as she learned from Hayashi Sensei (and her uncle), and relates a lot of stories about Hayashi Sensei. 

Doi Sensei says: 
" The book 'The Reiki Healing' written by Fuminori Aoki (master of Reido Reiki) has an article of one of Yamaguchi Sensei's talks.  It says 'When I (Yamaguchi) learned Reiki, I received Sho-den and Oku-den in five consecutive days.'  Currently, Yamaguchi teaches as she (was)  taught by Hayashi in 5 days.  Sho-den for the 3 days, and Oku-den  for the 2 days.  I am not sure but it can be possible that Hayashi's teaching method was different between teaching in his clinic in Tokyo and going out of Tokyo to teach".

Famous Healers Who Learned Reiki Ryoho
2000 Modern Reiki Method for Healing, by Hiroshi Doi

  1. Toshihiro Eguchi (founder of "Tenohira Ryoji (hand healing)")

  2. 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.
  3. Kaiji Tomita (founder of "Tomita Teate (hand healing) Ryoho")

  4. 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.
  5. Other healers

  6. 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".

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