The following is a summary of Mrs. Hawayo Takata’s version of her early years leading up to her contact with Reiki at the Hayashi clinic: She 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. She eventually married the bookkeeper of the plantation where she was employed. His name was Saichi Takata and they had two daughters. In October 1930 Saichi died at the age of 34, leaving Mrs. Takata to raise their two children.
In order to provide for her family, she had to work very hard with little rest. After five years she developed severe abdominal pain and a lung condition, and she had a nervous breakdown. Soon after this one of her sisters died and it was Mrs. Takata’s responsibility to travel to Japan, where her parents had resettled to deliver the news. She also felt she could receive help for her health in Japan.
After informing her parents, she entered a hospital and stated that she was diagnosed with a tumor, gallstones, appendicitis and asthma.(31) She was told to prepare for an operation but opted to visit Hayashi Sensei’s clinic instead.
Mrs. Takata was unfamiliar with Reiki but was impressed that the diagnosis of Reiki practitioners at the clinic closely matched the doctor’s at the hospital. She began receiving treatments. Two Reiki practitioners would treat her each day. The heat from their hands was so strong, she said, that she thought they were secretly using some kind of equipment. Seeing the large sleeves of the Japanese kimono worn by one, she thought she had found the secret place of concealment. Grabbing his sleeves one day she startled the practitioner, but, of course, found nothing. When she explained what she was doing, he began to laugh and then told her about Reiki and how it worked.
Mrs. Takata got progressively better and in four months was completely healed. She wanted to learn Reiki for herself. In the spring of 1936 she received First Degree Reiki from Dr. Hayashi. She then worked with him for a year and received Second Degree Reiki. Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii in 1937, followed shortly thereafter by Hayashi Sensei and his daughter who came to help establish Reiki there. In February of 1938 Hayashi Sensei initiated Hawayo Takata as a Reiki Master.
To summarize Takata Sensei’s Reiki background, she traveled from Hawaii to Japan to tell her parents about the death of her sister. Having been diagnosed with several ailments, the main one being asthma, she was guided to Hayashi Sensei’s clinic in Tokyo and after receiving four months of Reiki treatments was completely cured.(32) She wanted to learn Reiki in order to continue treating herself and also to take it back to Hawaii to share with others. Hayashi Sensei allowed her to work at his clinic and also began giving her Reiki training. She worked one year at the clinic and eventually received the Shinpiden level (Reiki Master). Hayashi Sensei officially acknowledged this in Hawaii on February 21, 1938, and also stated that she was one of thirteen Reiki Masters trained by him.(33)
31 Vera Graham, “Mrs. Takata Opens Minds to Reiki,” The (San Mateo) Times, May 17, 1975.
32 Patsy Matsura, “Mrs. Takata and Reiki Power,” Honolulu Advertiser, Feb. 25, 1974.
33 This information was recorded on Mrs. Takata’s Reiki certificate and in Mrs. Takata’s handwritten notes dated May 1936. A copy of her Reiki certificate is included in the article How Hayayo Takata Practiced and Taught Reiki.
Takata Sensei practiced Reiki in Hawaii, establishing several clinics, one of which was located in Hilo on the Big Island. She gave treatments and initiated students up to Reiki II. She became a well-known healer and traveled to the U.S. mainland and other parts of the world teaching and giving treatments. She was a powerful healer who attributed her success to the fact that she did a lot of Reiki on each client. She would often do multiple treatments, each sometimes lasting hours, and she often initiated members of a client’s family so they could give Reiki to the client as well.
It was not until after 1970 that Takata Sensei began initiating Reiki Masters. She charged a fee of $10,000 for Mastership even though the training took only a weekend.(34) This high fee was not part of the Usui system, and she may have charged this fee as her way of creating a feeling of respect for Reiki. She said that one should never do treatments or provide training for free, but should always charge a fee or get something in return. She also said that one must study with just one Reiki teacher and stay with that teacher the rest of one’s life.(35) In addition, she did not provide written instruction or allow her students to take notes or to tape record the classes and students were not allowed to make any written copies of the Reiki symbols. She said that Reiki is an oral tradition and that everything had to be memorized.(36) While this is generally true, she didn’t always teach the same way and in at least one class she allowed her students to take notes and gave them handouts.(37)
It is not certain why she said Reiki is an oral tradition or why she taught Reiki this way. What we do know from our research in Japan and the research of others is that these rules are not part of the way Usui Sensei or Hayashi Sensei practiced Reiki. In fact, Takata Sensei received a Reiki manual from Hayashi Sensei indicating that the oral tradition was not how Hayashi Sensei taught.(38) In addition, Takata Sensei taught Reiki differently than howshe had been taught. She simplified and standardized the hand positions so that every treatment would be the same. She called this the “foundation treatment,” containing just eight hand positions.(39) She also eliminated the Japanese Reiki Techniques.
Before Mrs. Takata made her transition on December 11, 1980, she had initiated twenty-two Reiki Masters.(40) These twenty-two Masters began teaching others. However, Mrs. Takata had made each one take a sacred oath to teach Reiki exactly as she had taught. This made it difficult for most of them to change, even though some of her rules made it more difficult to learn, which seemed to go against the nature of Reiki.
This version of the history of Reiki from Usui Sensei to Mrs. Takata relies on verifiable information that has taken a long time to reach the West. In addition to the reasons for this mentioned earlier, there are a number of others. After Hayashi Sensei died and World War II ended, Takata Sensei stated that all the other Reiki Masters in Japan had died during the war and that she was the only Reiki Master in the world.(41) Therefore, most people refrained from researching the history of Reiki, thinking she was the only authority. Many of the Masters she initiated also discouraged people from doing such research, stating that it was not needed, as their knowledge of Reiki was complete. Add to all this the fact that the Gakkai had become a secret society along with the linguistic, cultural, and geographic barriers that separated the United States from Japan, and it is easy to see why most authors simply accepted her story as true without seeking verification. Most did not realize that the organization started by Usui Sensei still existed in Japan and that contact with them, while difficult, was still possible.
34 Bethel Phaigh, “Journey into Consciousness,” 130. Other Masters initiated by Mrs. Takata have confirmed that she gave Reiki Master training in a weekend.
35 We know that Keizo Ogawa took Reiki Master training from Usui Sensei and lichi Taketomi, so it is not likely this rule came from Usui Sensei.
36 “Mrs. Takata Speaks,” audiotape. This was also explained to me by Bethal Phaigh in 1981 when I took Reiki I from her.
37 William Lee Rand, “Takata’s Handouts,” Reiki News Magazine (Summer 2009): 58. This article contains the handouts and notes taken during one of her classes.
38 A translation of this manual is in Reiki, The Healing Touch on page 63.
39 John Harvey Gray and Lourdes Gray with Steven McFadden and Elisabeth Clark, Hand to Hand, The Longest-Practicing Reiki Master Tells His Story (Gray, 2002), 93.
40 Before she died, Takata Sensei created a list of the twenty-two Masters she had initiated. They are: George Araki, Dorothy Baba (deceased), Ursula Baylow (deceased), Rick Bockner, Barbara Brown, Fran Brown (deceased), Patricia Ewing, Phyllis Lei Furumoto, Beth Gray (deceased), John Gray (deceased), Iris Ishikura (deceased), Harry Kuboi, Ethel Lombardi, Barbara McCullough, Mary McFadyen, Paul Mitchell, Bethel Phaigh (deceased), Barbara Weber Ray, Shinobu Saito, Kay Yamashita (Mrs. Takata’s sister), Virginia Samdahl (deceased), and Wanja Twan.
41 Graham, “Mrs. Takata Opens Minds to Reiki.” This is also stated on her Reiki flyers dated July 1975 and June 1976.