Mrs. Hawayo Takata brought Reiki from Japan to the West in 1937 and continued to practice and teach until she passed away in 1980.
This is a summary of Mrs. Hawayo Takata’s version of her years leading up to her contact with Reiki at the Hayashi clinic. Takata stated that she was born on December 24th, 1900, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Her parents were Japanese immigrants and her father worked in the sugar cane fields.
Takata married the bookkeeper (Saichi Takata) of the plantation where she was employed and they had two daughters. In October 1930 Saichi died at the age of 34. After five years of long hours of labor to support her family, Takata developed severe abdominal pain and a lung condition, and had a nervous breakdown.
Soon after, one of Takata’s sisters died and it was her responsibility to travel to Japan, where her parents had resettled to deliver the news.
After informing her parents, Takata entered a hospital and stated that she was diagnosed with a tumor and gallstones, appendicitis and asthma. She was told to prepare for surgery but chose to visit Hayashi’s clinic instead.
Mrs. Takata was unfamiliar with Reiki but was impressed that the diagnosis from the Reiki practitioners at the clinic closely matched the doctor’s at the hospital. She began receiving treatments.
Takata wanted to learn Reiki in order to continue treating herself and also to take it back to Hawaii to share with others. Hayashi allowed Takata to work at his clinic and also began giving her Reiki training.
Takata worked one year at the clinic and eventually received the Shinpiden level (Reiki Master). Hayashi officially acknowledged this in Hawaii on February 21, 1938, and also stated that she was one of thirteen Reiki Masters trained by him.
Takata practiced Reiki in Hawaii, opened several clinics, one of which was located in Hilo on the Big Island. She gave treatments and initiated students up to Reiki II.
Takata became a renowned healer and travelled to the U.S. mainland and other parts of the world teaching and giving treatments. She attributed her success to the fact that she performed a lot of Reiki on each client.
Takata would often do multiple treatments on a client, each sometimes lasting hours, and often initiated members of a client’s family so they could give Reiki to the client as well.
After 1970, Takata began initiating Reiki Masters for a fee of $10,000 for the weekend training. This high fee was not a part of the Usui system. Takata may have charged this fee as her way of creating a feeling of respect for Reiki. Takata believed that treatments and training should never be given for free.
Takata also stated that one must study with one Reiki teacher and remain with that teacher the rest of one’s life. In addition, Takata did not provide written instructions or allow students to take notes or to record the classes. Students were not allowed to make written copies of the Reiki symbols.
Takata attributed these restrictions to the notion that Reiki was an oral tradition and that everything must be memorized. It is not certain why Takata said Reiki is an oral tradition or why she taught Reiki this way.
Based on research, these rules were not a part of the way Usui or Hayashi practiced Reiki. Takata received a Reiki manual from Hayashi. In addition, Takata taught Reiki differently than how she had been taught by simplifying and standardizing the hand positions. Takata called this the “foundation treatment,” with eight hand positions.
Before Mrs. Takata died on December 11, 1980, she had initiated 22 Reiki Masters. These twenty-two Masters began teaching others with the promise to Takata that they would continue teaching Reiki in the same manner she had.
The exclusive nature of Reiki organizations in Japan made Reiki less accessible with individuals travelling to the US to learn it. Reiki practiced in Japan and in America is a blend of both western and Japanese Reiki. Takata is credited for helping Reiki flourish to the degree that it has in the western hemisphere.
Over time, some of the Masters that Takata trained began lowering their course fees. This also corresponded with changes in how Reiki was taught, allowing the wisdom of Reiki to guide sessions.
Reiki classes became more open with workbooks, notes and recordings.
Students were encouraged to seek out more than one teacher. This shift helped Reiki to become widely taught and it is estimated that there are over one million Reiki Masters in the world today with well over four million practitioners.