Northern Beaches Reiki & Meditation Studio

History of Reiki
The Mikao Usui memorial stone - carved on granite block in 1927 by his students. This can be viewed in Tokyo today and is often visited by Reiki practitioners from around the world. The text is in old Japanese (pre-1945) An English translation by Japanese monk, Hyakuten Inamoto, (translation can be found at bottom of this page)
Japanese teachers such as Hiroshi Doi (member of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai – traditional Japanese Reiki society).
Hyakuten Inamoto (Japanese monk and Reiki teacher).
Japanese books by and about students of Mikao Usui.

In 1865 Mikao Usui (1865-1926) was born to a samurai family descended from the Chiba clan.

1) The Life Of Usui Mikao
To clearly illustrate the history of
in italics and with direct quotes from his memorial stone are in inverted commas. Any extra
background information is written in plain text. Personal information for this biography is drawn
from the memorial stone, Doi Hiroshi, Suzuki san and personal discussions with Japanese Reiki
Usui Mikao was born on the 15th August, 1865 in the village of Taniai-mura (now called Miyama-cho) in
the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture Kyoto in Japan.
Kyoto was the capital of Japan at this time. Japan was also opening up the country once again after a self
imposed exile which had left it culturally prosperous though far behind the western world technologically
and militarily.
Today, if you travel to Miyamo-cho you will find Usui Mikao’s name carved on a big Torii (shrine gate) at
the Amataka Shrine close to where his home once stood. The stone Torii was donated by three brothers of
Usui Mikao in April, 1923.
Usui Mikao is said to have come from a samurai family who were ‘hatamoto’ – a high level within the
ranks of samurai.
Shoden Manual
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you may copy this information for your own students.
If you copy or edit this text in anyway please keep this copyright notice intact.
The hatamoto were the shogun’s personal guard. During the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1867), the
hatamoto were direct vassals of the shogun, and their annual revenue was fixed at a minimum of 10,000
bushels of rice.
Due to the major changes which were happening in Japan from the 1860s onwards the samurai class were
no longer required and were offered positions as public servants.
Tsunetane Chiba, a famous samurai from the 8th century, was Usui Mikao’s ancestor.
The Chiba clan was one of the most famous and influential samurai families in all of Japan according to
Chiba family recorded documents.
The Usui family crest was Moon and Stars; these were the symbols of 'Myoken Bodhisattva'. They were
also the icons for samurai as well as the family crest of the Chiba's.
The Chiba mark, or family crest, is a circle with a dot at the top. The circle represents the universe, and the
dot, which is the Japanese way to make a star, represents the North Star. The North Star never moves and
the universe must move around it.
Usui Mikao was born a Buddhist and as a child studied in a Tendai Monastery. In the West it was
believed that he was born a Christian. This was added by Hawayo Takata probably as a means to make
Reiki more acceptable to Americans during the period of WWII as there was much anti-Japanese
sentiment. Christianity was outlawed by Japan at the time Usui Mikao was born.
From 1600 –1867 Japan was shut under a policy called sakoku or ‘national seclusion’. Westerners were
forbidden to enter Japan and trade. Only the Dutch were excluded as they did not support Christian
missionaries and even helped suppress a Christian revolt. Through the small port of Dejima in Nagasaki
Dutch traders became Japan’s only link to the West for more than two centuries. This privilege was only
extended to contact with Japanese merchants and prostitutes. Any Japanese who dared to venture abroad
during this period were executed on their return to prevent any form of 'contamination'.
At the age of 12, Usui Mikao began with the practise of a martial arts called Aiki Jutsu. He eventually
became an instructor in 'Yagyu Ryu' and gained 'Menkyo Kaiden' (the highest licence of proficiency in
weaponry and grappling). He is also said to have reached high levels in other ancient Japanese methods.
‘He was renowned for his expertise and highly respected by other well known martial artists of his time’.
Usui Mikao had one sister and two brothers, one of whom studied medicine. Usui Mikao was called
Doctor Usui by Hawayo Takata and mistakenly many people in the West thought of him as either a
physician or a PhD. Neither is true and the term doctor was probably a loose translation of the term
‘sensei’ which is a respectful term used for one’s teacher in Japan. She also claimed that Dr. Usui had
been the president of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan and a student at the University of Chicago,
America – both stories have been proven untrue by recent research into Reiki.
The literal translation of the word Sensei is teacher. In the Martial Arts, though, it means a lot more. It can
for example mean ‘one who was born before’ or ‘one who is due special respect because of the spiritual
importance of his teachings’
Shoden Manual
© 2005 Copyright International House of Reiki –
you may copy this information for your own students.
If you copy or edit this text in anyway please keep this copyright notice intact.
Sadako was the family name of Usui Mikao’s wife and they had a son called Fuji (born 1907) and a
daughter of whom no records have yet been found.
‘Having learned under difficulties in his childhood, he studied hard with efforts and he was by far
superior in ability to his friends. After growing up, he went over to Europe and America and also studied
in China.’ and ‘He was a man of versatile talents and also a book lover, knowing well in the wide range
from history, biography, medical science, canons of Christianity and Buddhism and psychology up to
magic of fairyland, art of curse, science of divination and physiognomy’.
Usui Mikao is said to have worked in many fields, perhaps due to the fact that he travelled greatly. He was
also said to have worked as a private secretary to a politician called Shimpei Goto who was Secretary of
the Railroad, Postmaster General and Secretary of the Interior and State. In 1922 Shimpei Goto also
became Mayor of Tokyo. Usui Mikao was in charge of security and general administration (perhaps
because of his martial arts training).
At some point in his life he became a Tendai Buddhist Monk/Priest who remained in his own home, not in
the temple. This is similar to what we might call a lay priest and is called 'Zaike' in Japanese or ‘priest
possessing a home’.
Tendai was brought to Japan by Saicho in the 8th century and names Nagarjuna as its patriarch. Apart from
the belief that the Lotus Sutra is Buddha’s complete and perfect teaching it also teaches meditation based
on esoteric elements like mudras and mandalas. Mikkyo is a form of Buddhism also said to be bought to
Japan by Saicho and can be translated as ‘the secret teaching’. A close relationship developed between the
Tendai monastery complex on Mount Hiei and the imperial court in Kyoto. As a result, Tendai
emphasized great reverence for the emperor and the nation.
‘One day, Usui Sensei climbed Mt. Kurama, where he began to do penance while fasting.’
Mt. Kurama (570 meters above sea level) is 12 kilometres due north of Kyoto Imperial Palace and can be
reached in 30 minutes from Kyoto by car or train. The Kurama Temple, founded in 770 as the guardian of
the northern quarter of the capital city (Heiankyo), is located halfway up the mountain. The temple
formerly belonged to the Tendai sect of Buddhism, but since 1949, it has been included in the newly
founded Kurama-Kokyo sect as its headquarters.
More than six million years ago, Mao-son (the great king of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the
earth) descended upon Mt. Kurama from Venus, with the great mission of the salvation of mankind. Since
then, Mao-son's powerful spirit governing the development and the evolution not only of mankind but of
all living things on Earth has been emanating from Mt. Kurama, and a priest named Gantei received the
spiritual transmission.
Mao-son, Bishamon-ten, and Senju-kannon are the symbols of the universal soul, forming a Trinity known
as “Sonten" or the "Supreme Deity". These three are the symbols of power, light, and love. Sonten is the
creator of the universe, and cultivates the development of everything all over the earth.
Shoden Manual
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you may copy this information for your own students.
If you copy or edit this text in anyway please keep this copyright notice intact.
‘Suddenly on the twenty first day from the start, he felt a great REIKI over his head, and at the same time
as he was spiritually awakened he acquired the REIKI cure. When he tried it on his own body and
members’ of his family also, it brought an immediate result on them.’
There were also a number of other groups practising hands-on-healing at the turn of the century in Japan.
These included:
• Taireidou by Tanaka Morihei
• Tenohira-Ryouchi-Kenkyukai – (Association for the Study of Palm Treatments) by Eguchi
Toshihiro (he was a fiend of Usui Mikao’s and is said to have studied with him)
• Jintai-Ragium-Gakkai – (the Human Body Radium Society) by Matsumoto Chiwake
• Shinnoukyou-Honin – a religion founded by Nishimura Taikan whose method was called
Shinnoukyou-Syokushu-Shikou-Ryoho (Violet Light Healing Method)
• Johrei, a religion and uses the Reiki symbol 4.
‘Having said “It is much better to give this power widely to a lot of people in the world and enjoy it
among them than to keep it exclusively by his family members.” Usui Sensei moved his dwelling to
Aoyama Harajuku, Tokyo in April, 1922 and established an institute, where the REIKI cure was
instructed openly to the public and the treatment was given, too. People came there from far and near to
ask for his guidance and cure, and they overflowed outside, making a long line.’
‘Tokyo had a very big fire caused by a great earthquake in Kanto district in September, 1923, when the
injured and sick persons suffered from pains everywhere. Usui Sensei felt a deep anxiety about that, and
he was engaged in a cure, going around inside the city every day. We can hardly calculate how many
persons were saved from death with his devotion.’
On September 1, 1923, just before noon, an earthquake measuring 8.3 occurred near the modern industrial
cities of Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan. This was not the largest earthquake to ever hit Japan, but its
proximity to Tokyo and Yokohama and the surrounding areas, with combined populations numbering 2
million, made it one of the most devastating quakes ever to hit Japan. Tokyo's principle business and
industrial districts lay in ruins. There was an estimation of nearly 100,000 deaths with an additional
40,000 missing. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless in the resulting fires.
This earthquake may have been the background inspiration for Hawayo Takata’s well known beggar story.
After the earthquake he moved to Nakano, outside of Tokyo, in 1925. He was often invited to travel
throughout Japan treating people and teaching students. Usui Mikao had over 2000 students in total, more
than 1000 Shoden (first degree) students, 30-50 Okuden (second degree) and 17 teacher students
He used a hikkei (manual) which included the precepts, meditations and also over 100 of the Meiji
emperor’s waka poetry. Students copied notes by hand and also wrote their questions. These would be
answered in writing by Usui Mikao. On page 45 we have a copy of the current Gakkai hikkei which
belonged to Ms. Koyama (7th president of the Gakkai). This would appear to be a compilation from
several manuals.
Shoden Manual
© 2005 Copyright International House of Reiki –
you may copy this information for your own students.
If you copy or edit this text in anyway please keep this copyright notice intact.
‘Usui Sensei’s natural character was gentle and prudent, and he did not keep up appearances. His body
was big and sturdy, and his face was always beaming with a smile. But when he faced the difficulties he
went ahead with a definite will and yet persevered well, keeping extremely careful.’
‘As his reputation got higher and higher, it was so often when he received an offer of engagement from
everywhere throughout the nation. In accordance with these requests he travelled to Kure and Hiroshima,
then entered Saga and reached Fukuyama. It was at the inn at which he stayed on his way that he caught
a disease abruptly, and he passed away at the age of sixty-two.’
Usui Mikao died of a stroke.
A final quote from the memorial stone of Usui Mikao says, ‘Usui Sensei emphasized that “This is surely a
secret process to bring a good fortune and also a miraculous medicine to remedy all kinds of diseases.”
by which he made his purpose of teaching clear and accurate. Furthermore, he tried to aim at making his
way of guidance as easy and simple as possible, so nothing is difficult to understand therein. Every time
when you sit quietly and join your hands to pray and chant morning and evening, you can develop a pure
and sound mind, and there is just an essence in making the most of that for your daily life. This is the
reason why the REIKI cure can very easily spread over anybody.’


Usui Mikao