The History of Reiki

Chujiro Hayashi

Among the 20 teachers initiated by Usui Sensei was one man by the name of Chujiro Hayashi (he is located at the far right in the picture and the woman standing next to him is Hawayo Takata). We know little about his personal life beyond the basic facts. He was born 09/15/1880. He graduated from the Japan Naval Academy in 1902 from Class 30 as a medical doctor. There is some disagreement as to his religious beliefs. Some say he was a devout practitioner of Soto Zen and he incorporated rituals from the Shinto religion into his practice of Zen-Buddhism while others say that he was a Christian. He married and he and his wife, Chie, had two children. His son, Tadayoshi was born in 1903 and his daughter, Kiyoe, was born in 1910. Hayashi served in the Russo-Japanese War from 1902-1906, achieved the rank of Captain and in 1918 was appointed Director of Ominato Port Defense Station on the Shimokita Peninsula in Northern Japan.   

Rear Admiral Kan’ichi Taketomi was Chief of Staff at the station at the time. Taketomi later became the 3rd Chairman of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai. It is likely that Hayashi learned about Reiki from Taketomi or from other naval officers, as several had trained with Usui. Hayashi became Shihan (teacher) in June, 1925 at age 46, after his retirement from the Navy at age 45. It should be noted, however, that he was still in the reserves. He may have been the last person to receive Shihan from Usui Sense, since Usui died in 1926.

Before his passing, Usui Sensei had asked Hayashi to open his own Reiki clinic and to expand and develop Reiki Ryoho based on Hayashi’s medical knowledge. At one time, Hayashi had been a medical doctor in the Navy. Motivated by this request, Hayashi Sensei started a school and clinic of his own in Shinano-machi, Tokyo but after Usui Sensei died, Hayashi left the Gakkai. Later he opened other clinics in other cities. In 1928, a Japanese magazine, widely circulated at that time, published an article on Hayashi. This article refers to Hayashi as a “diligent and warm-hearted man, who despite being a sea captain, nevertheless gave the impression that he was born to be a Reiki practitioner.”

Hayashi he kept careful records of all the illnesses and conditions of his Reiki patients. He also kept records of which Reiki hand positions worked best to treat each illness and condition. Based on these records he created a "Guidelines for Reiki Healing Method" Manual. This healing guide was part of a class manual he gave to his students. The handbook was to be used only if the practitioner was not able to use Byosen scanning to find the best hand positions to use. Many of Hayashi’s students received their Reiki training in return for working in his clinic.

Hayashi Sensei also changed the way Reiki sessions were given. Rather than having a client sit in a chair to be treated by one practitioner as Usui Sensei had done, Hayashi Sensi had the client lie on a treatment table in order to receive treatment from several Reiki practitioners at once. Where Usui placed emphasis on the navel and the Tanden as important energy centers, Hayashi focused more on the meridian lines of acupuncture and the chakras. Usui referenced various vertebrae in relation to hand positions while Hayashi referenced various organs in relation to hand positions. Hayashi also created a new, more effective system for giving attunements. He taught monthly classes in Tokyo and Osaka. Hayashi taught twice a year in Ishikawa but he taught all over Japan as well.  

Some say that he attracted practitioners to his clinic by offering to give Level 1 empowerments in return for a 3-month commitment as unpaid help. At the end of this term, Hayashi would offer the more accomplished students the Level 2 empowerment in return for a further 9-month commitment. Those who completed this had the chance of receiving the Master symbol or third degree. After 2-years of further commitment which involved assisting Hayashi in the classroom, practitioners were taught the empowerment and were allowed to teach. Practitioners simply had to work an 8-hour shift once a week for the duration of their commitment. Others imply that there was definitely a fee-structure already in place at this time.

In 1935, Hawayo Takata, a Japanese-born American woman arrived in Japan and was treated at Hayashi’s clinic. In 1936, after her complete recovery, she asked to be taught Reiki, but was initially refused, not because she was a woman, but because she was a foreigner. At that time, Hayashi was not yet allowed to share knowledge of Reiki with the outside world. Instead, he went to the Gakkai, and asked for and received their permission to teach Hayashi before proceeding to do so. Many in the Gakkai thought he should be expelled from the society for teaching Takata the healing methods of Reiki. As it turns out, it was not the act of teaching Takata Reiki that would lead to his early demise, but rather the fact that Hayashi made the disastrous mistake of following Takata to and visiting her in Hawaii after she returned home. He would end up paying for this decision with his life.

In late September 1937, Hayashi accompanied by his daughter, Kiyoe, set sail for Hawaii and arrived in early October 1937 where they stayed for several months hosted by Mrs. Takata prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hayashi gave free lectures on Reiki organized by Takata, often with Takata demonstrating various Reiki techniques. Before he left Hawaii, Hayashi awarded Takata a Shihan (teacher) certificate.  

Hayashi and his daughter left Hawaii in late February 1938. After he returned home, he was allegedly approached and asked by the Japanese Military to provide information about the location of warehouses and other military targets in Honolulu. He refused to provide that information to them and was declared a traitor and accused of being a spy. Alternative Reiki histories suggest that due to his practice of Buddhism and its spiritual convictions of pacifism, that when the war broke out and Hayashi, as a Naval Officer, had to return to duty, he would refuse to participate in the fighting. Hayashi may also have potentially foreseen the consequences of the war – Japan may have been completely destroyed and the worst-case scenario would be realized – that there would be no more Reiki Masters left to carry on the practice and traditions of Reiki. It is possible that in order to preserve knowledge of Reiki itself, Hayashi decided to teach Takata. Other theories propound that it was the rife nationalism which Hayashi found so disagreeable and in protest of it, he chose to end his life.

Eithe way, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. At any rate, Hayashi’s refusal to fight and/or to provide information about possible military targets in Hawaii caused him to lose face which was an extremely serious matter in Japanese culture at that time. It meant that he and his family would be ostracized from Japanese society entirely. The only solution to losing face was to commit Seppuku or ritual suicide which he carried out in the presence of Takata Sensei and his other students, whom he called back to Japan in early May of 1940. He died honorably on 05/11/1940 at his villa in Atami, Izu.  

Prior to committing suicide, Hayashi Sensei apparently bequeathed his home (and his Clinic?) to Takata, leaving the Atami villa to his wife, Chie. It was his wish, it seemed, that Takata Sensei continue his work as his successor; however, she decided to return to Hawaii, allowing Chie to continue to live in the Tokyo house. After this, Hayashi Sensei’s wife, Chie Hayashi, took over his clinic and ran it for some years. She went through the teachings of Reiki Ryoho and began to teach it as her husband had done during his lifetime. Their two children did not follow in their parents’ footsteps. Eventually Chie retired and Hayashi Reiki Ryoho Kenkyukai (the Hayashi Reiki Research Institute) closed its doors after Chie stopped teaching Reiki in 1952.  

Partly as a result of Japan’s entry into the war, Takata is said to have lost contact with both the Hayashi Reiki Research Institute and with other Japanese Reiki practitioners. In one of her recorded talks, Mrs. Takata stated that 14 years after Hayashi’s death, but historical records later indicated that it was actually 12 years after his death that she made a return visit to Japan in 1952 to attend the annual commemorating honoring Hayashi and met with his wife, Chie, also handing back ownership of the Tokyo property to her at that time. During this visit, Chie suggested that Mrs. Takata resume the activities of the Hayashi Reiki Research Institute; however, Mrs. Takata declined that proposal telling Chie that she had changed the system too much to do so. Unfortunately, with no one to take over this position, Hayashi’s clinic truly came to an end. It is likely that some of Hayashi Sensei’s students continued to teach but most of his students have passed on.

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