The History of Reiki: A Journey through Time

Woman Doing Reiki
January 18, 2024

The History of Reiki: A Journey through Time

The First Reiki Masters

Reiki, a holistic healing technique that originated in Japan, has a long and intriguing history. Its roots are deeply intertwined with spirituality, personal growth, and the quest for enlightenment. Here, we delve into the captivating history of Reiki, from its origins in Japan to its spread across the globe.

The Genesis of Reiki

The history of Reiki begins with a spiritual journey embarked upon by a man named Mikao Usui. Born on August 15, 1865, in a wealthy Buddhist family in Japan, Usui had a strong educational background and was exposed to various cultural experiences.

Early Life and Education of Mikao Usui

Mikao Usui, known respectfully as Usui Sensei by his students, was an ardent learner. As a child, he was trained in martial arts, swordsmanship, and Chi Kung at monasteries. He later journeyed to America, China, and Europe as part of the Meiji Restoration, which marked the opening of Japan’s borders to the outside world for the first time in 200 years. Usui was a Tendai lay minister, commonly known as a zaike. As a zaike, he was allowed to have a family. Usui married Suzuki Sadako, and they had two children.

The Spiritual Journey of Mikao Usui

Inspired by Shinto and Shugendo, ancient Japanese spiritual traditions, Usui embarked on an intense spiritual journey. In April 1922, he initiated a 21-day meditation at Mount Kurama, a sacred mountain in Japan. During this period of meditation, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening known as Anshin Ritsumei or enlightenment, which gave him the ability to heal.

The Creation of Usui Reiki Ryoho

Following his enlightenment, Usui set out to create a system that would enable others to heal themselves and progress towards enlightenment. Drawing from traditional Japanese spiritual practices, he developed ‘Usui do’ or ‘the way of Usui.’ He customized his teachings to suit each student’s unique needs, be it studying and chanting symbols or contemplating Reiki principles.

The Development of Reiki Healing Techniques

After his enlightening experience on Mount Kurama, Usui dedicated his life to developing and refining the healing techniques that would become known as Reiki. Initially, all Usui had was the healing energy itself. Over time, he developed specific techniques and teachings to make the energy more accessible and effective.

The Role of Chujiro Hayashi

One of Usui’s prominent students was Chujiro Hayashi, a former naval officer. Before his death, Usui asked Hayashi to open his own clinic and develop Reiki further, drawing on his medical background. Hayashi went on to establish the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai (Institute), where he taught students and treated patients. He also created a comprehensive guide for Reiki healing based on his extensive records of patient treatments.

The Spread of Reiki to the Western World

The spread of Reiki beyond Japan began with a woman named Hawayo Takata. Born in 1900 in Hawaii, she traveled to Japan after the death of her husband and her subsequent health breakdown. Seeking treatment in Japan, she discovered Reiki and underwent treatments at Hayashi’s clinic. Not only did she regain her health, but she also decided to learn Reiki and become a practitioner herself.

Hawayo Takata and the Introduction of Reiki to the West

As Takata learned and practiced Reiki, she felt a strong desire to bring this healing technique to the Western world. She returned to Hawaii and established several clinics where she offered Reiki treatments and teachings. She also made efforts to simplify and adapt the Reiki teachings for Western students, combining the four levels of Shoden (First Degree) into one, which is now commonly known as Reiki Level I in the West.

The Evolution and Modern Practice of Reiki

Reiki has continued to evolve since its inception, adapting to the needs and understanding of practitioners in different cultures and times. Today, it is practiced worldwide as a method for promoting physical and emotional healing and spiritual growth.

The Role of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai

After Usui’s death, his students formed the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, a society dedicated to the practice and teaching of Reiki. The society has had a significant influence on maintaining the teachings of Usui and promoting the practice of Reiki in Japan and around the world.


The history of Reiki is a testament to the power of spiritual enlightenment and the potential for personal transformation. From its origins in Japan to its current global practice, Reiki remains a potent tool for healing and personal growth. As we continue to explore and understand this ancient practice, we honor the legacy of Mikao Usui and his profound contribution to holistic wellness.

author avatar
Houston Reiki