The system of Reiki was developed by Mikao Usui in 1922 whilst performing Isyu Guo, a twenty-one day Buddhist training course held on Mount Kurama. It is not known for certain what Usui was required to do during this training, though it most likely involved meditation, fasting, chanting, and prayer. It is claimed that by a mystical revelation, Usui had gained the knowledge and spiritual power to apply and attune others to what he called Reiki, which entered his body through his crown Chakra. In April 1922, Usui moved to Tokyo and founded the Usui Reiki Ryōhō Gakkai in old style characters, meaning “Usui’s Spiritual Energy Therapy Method Society”) in order to continue treating people on a large scale with Reiki.


According to the inscription on his memorial stone, Usui taught his system of Reiki to over 2000 people during his lifetime, and sixteen of these students continued their training to reach the Shinpiden level, a level equivalent to the Western third, or Master/Teacher, degree. While teaching Reiki in Fukuyama (Fukuyama-shi), Usui suffered a stroke and died on 9 March 1926.


Western Reiki (Seiyō reiki) is a system that can be accredited to Hawayo Takata. The principal difference between the traditions is the use of set hand patterns for internal treatments instead of Reiji-hō, the intuitive skill of “knowing where to place the hands.” This style of Reiki places more emphasis on the healing of ailments, and ascension to higher levels of attunement is more formalised.


After being trained by Hayashi, Takata went back to Hawaii, taking Reiki with her. After setting up clinics there, Reiki then spread to the rest of the Western world. As a result of the second world war, Takata decided to modify the Traditional Japanese Reiki system in order to make it more understandable and credible to the mentality of the West.