After Usui’s Death – Reiki Circles the Earth

Chujiro Hayashi photo from wikipedia

Before he died in 1926, Usui Sensei initiated twenty men to administer the Reiki Reiju (initiation) and carry on his work.  The former-Rear Admiral, Juzaburo Ushida (1865-1935) retired from the Navy the day before Usui died and became the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai’s second president after his death.

The original Usui organization still functions, although membership is closed.  Even during Usui’s time, government regulations allowed only medical personnel, acupuncturists and massage therapists to publicly treat patients.  For this reason, the Usui Reiki Ryoho membership became very exclusive, an invitation-only organization open to few Japanese.  Currently it is on its seventh President.

In 1925, Chujiro Hayashi, a medical doctor in the Japanese Navy, was initiated.  Because he was a doctor and could practice publically, Usui encouraged him to start his own dojo (training center).  Hayashi opened the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai in Tokyo.  He introduced the use of massage tables for his twenty practitioners to treat ten patients at a time.  Besides managing the busy clinic, after Usui’s death, Hayashi traveled around Japan and taught Reiki as a five-day class.

All non-Japanese Reiki lineages are traced back to Hayashi.  He taught many people including the Japanese-American woman, Hawayo Takata.

Hawayo Takata lived and worked on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.  During a 1935 visit to Japan, Hayashi treated her serious illness with Reiki.  After being healed, she became his student.  She invited Hayashi to teach in Hawaii in 1937 and again in 1938.  On that trip, he initiated Takata as one of thirteen, fully trained Shihans.

On May 11th 1940, Hayashi committed suicide by slitting his wrists.  He instructed his wife to keep his reason secret.  She took over his clinic practice.

As the Japanese prepared for war, most pacifist spiritual and esoteric groups closed their doors to the public.  At the time, Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai had about one million members.

During World War II, both the the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai and the Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai headquarters were completely bombed.  After the war when the US began its occupation of Japan, new legislation outlawed all traditional medicine.  Reiki became illegal.  The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai’s sixty branches went underground; they took down their signs, de-listed their phone number and kept their practice secret.

Hayashi’s wife Chie continued operating his clinics.  She finally closed them in the mid-1950s because she could not find anyone to take on its leadership.

As fate would have it, it was the Japanese-American, Hawaya Takata’s students who spread Reiki around the globe.

In the 1970s, Takata, a widow living in Iowa, began teaching Reiki.  When she died in 1980, she had initiated twenty-two teachers including her granddaughter, Phyllis Furumoto.  Through the Reiki Alliance and the Usui Shiki Ryoho (both founded by Phyllis Furumoto) and the Radiance Technique (founded by Barbara Ray), Reiki spread through the mainland, then onto Europe and around the globe, back to Japan.  In Japan, the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai was so secret that in 1987 when Westerners brought Reiki courses to Japan, the Japanese attendees agreed the Reiki kanji looked Japanese but believed the healing method came from the West.

Like all “secret” teachings, over time, disputes developed regarding the authenticity of the teachings as the students became teachers, re-interpreting the material and adding their own insights.

In 1993, Frank Arjava Petter was living in Sapporo, Japan.  Fluent in Japanese, he was busy researching Usui and trying to locate any of Hayashi’s original, Japanese students.  In 1997, he published his first book, Reiki Fire.  He makes the point that Reiki is energy, pure and simple.

 “It has nothing to do with religion, astrology, New Age, psychology, personal growth, channeling, bodywork or even healing for that matter.”

Reiki channels energy and the body’s wisdom directs the necessary healing to the emotion or physical cause.  If we stay focused on the purpose and listen to our inner voice, the right lineage and teacher for our needs will appear.

Read more about Frank Arjava’s Petter research and how he located one of Hayashi’s original, Japanese students.



Dai Shihan, Arjava Petter is an international Reiki teacher, author of sixteen books and Vice-Representative of the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Kyoto, Japan.  A lifelong spiritual seeker, Arjava Petter combines his wisdom about holistic health, meditation and Asian spirituality into his Reiki practice.

Review of This is Reiki by Frank Arjava Petter 2012 Lotus Press

In his 2012 book, This is Reiki, he brings much of the history he presented in previous books and combined it with his insights gained from his years teaching to explain:

– What the Reiki kanji (Chinese characters) mean;

– A detailed history of the Japanese Reiki community and associations;

– The role Mount Karuma’s spiritual energy played within Usui’s Reiki revelation;

– How to visit sacred, Japanese sites with reverence;

– The evolution Japan’s New Religions;

– The roots of Reiki’s symbols within Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism;

– Senju Kannon – the one-thousand armed Bodhisattva, aka Quan Yin;

– The relationship between the mind and the heart;

– The twenty Reiji-Ho meditation techniques to help build the practitioner’s ability to feel byosen and increase one’s compassion, the fifth Reiki principle.

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