Where Does Reiki Come From And How The Word Spread Out

Throughout the years of attending Reiki seminars and meet-ups, I was surprised to see how many people were not familiar with its history and didn’t know where Reiki comes from.

There are many interpretations of Reiki’s history but more or less all lead to the same conclusions.

In this brief overview, I just want to point out the most important facts. This is what people should know when they ask themselves, where reiki originated from.

The Origin Of Reiki

Reiki started in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century. The word is composed of REI, which means “Universal Life” and KI, which means “Energy”.

Mikao Usui is the father of Reiki. He is a Japanese Buddhist priest who introduced the therapy to the world back in 1922.

Some might argue that he was seeking the Christian way of healing and even earned a doctorate of theology from the University of Chicago. Despite the rumors, he’s known to this day as a dedicated Buddhist.

Usui Sensei comes from a wealthy Buddhist family and was fortunate enough to receive good education from a very young age. He had two brothers and an older sister. One of the brothers became a doctor.

He traveled quite a bit during his adult life. He studied history, Christianity and Buddhism, psychology, Taoism and medicine.

Therefore his interests aligned with the study of Reiki from a relatively young age (it ran in the family). These various experiences and learnings fueled his desire to heal himself as well as others using nothing but his hands.

Another requirement was to develop this practice independent of any religion or belief.

The Concept Of 21 Days

Before the idea of Reiki even existed in Dr. Mikao Usui’s mind, he tried to understand life, its purpose and his own role here on Earth. Therefore, following the advice of his teacher and fellow monks, he went on a spiritual journey for 21 days.

That’s how the 21 days self-treatment took life, even though, at first, it wasn’t defined in any way. Mikao Usui simply listened to his intuition and did what he thought was necessary at the time. It was 21 days that he made sense of it all.

Therefore he went on this spiritual adventure on Kurama Mountain, which is a high vibrational place.

There he transitioned into a state of calm and meditation.

He did so by fasting, praying, and slowly “detaching” himself from this wold.

After 21 days his prayers were answered … even though he was not aware of what he was looking for. In the end, after this long journey of fasting and meditation, he received information, symbols, and techniques.

These were practices he could now use to help himself as well as others and how Reiki had its start.

How Reiki Spread

While returning from Kurama Mountain, Usui Sensei stops and helps the people from nearby villages. He is applying the learnings and what is now known as Reiki.

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He put everything together and managed to pull out some amazing results and the purpose of his journey was now achieved.

It was now time to pass on his learnings and up until his last days, he managed to do so. Therefore, his apprentices became Reiki enthusiasts, and soon enough turned into practitioners.

He opened the first clinic in Kyoto and the practice became known relatively quickly. Interest grew and so did the demand, therefore Sensei Usui opened the first Reiki clinic and school in Tokyo in 1922.

He wanted to pass on his learnings and it seems he was able to teach around 2000 people before his passing, in 1926.

One of his students is Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a naval physician who played a major role in taking Reiki outside Japan in a less mystical fashion.

Hayashi directly trained Mrs. Hawayo Takata, a Japanese-American woman who introduced the spiritual practice of Reiki to the Western World. She became a Master Practitioner in 1940.

Reiki Today

Reiki complements today many traditional methods but its most important role is to heal oneself at a physical, mental and spiritual level.

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From here on, practitioners who gained higher levels in Reiki can work on other people, but the first “rule” (even though there are no rules in Reiki), is to be in tune with your self first.

We still use the basic elements of Usui Reiki even today. Not much has changed since inception.

The beauty of Reiki is its flexibility and how it works in different ways for each individual. We all have different needs and goals, therefore, we often seek distinct results.

The outcome is usually “personalized” for each person, even though we use the same methods. That’s why intention is key and why having a clear “goal“, or whatever you feel like calling it, is so important in the very beginning.


If you were unclear about Reiki’s origins then this post should help you with that.

Was there a time when you wished we had this info top of mind? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, feel free to ask me any questions you may have moving forward.

I’ll see you in the next one!

About Vlad and ReikiScoop

Vlad is a Usui Reiki Grand Master/Teacher who has also gained the Master/Teacher Level in Karuna, Shamballa MDH, and Gendai Reiki, with 15+ years of experience. He now shares his knowledge through ReikiScoop. You can always read more about Vlad and ReikiScoop in the about section.

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