Reijutsu, Hand-Healing, 'New Religions' & Reiki in early 20thC
© 2002 James Deacon
number of people seem to be under the misapprehension that Usui
Sensei was somehow responsible for what has been referred to as
a 'revival' of Healing-hand practices in early 20th century Japan.
However, such healing practices had been quite common in Japan
for many centuries and there is no reason to believe they had
fallen into decline during the Meiji era.
In fact, it is known that many and varied forms of hand-healing
practices existed during Usui Sensei's lifetime.
'Teate' (hand/palm healing) systems had long existed (and continue
to exist today) with in the martial disciplines, for example:
the various schools of Ninpo (Ninjitsu) and traditional Bujutsu
schools such as Katori Shinto Ryu, and I believe, Yagyu Ryu -
the Jujutsu/Kenjutsu discipline believed to have been studied
by Usui Sensei himself.
And, outside of martial arts circles, there also existed several
teate practices utilising a form of vital life-force energy
referred to as:'seiki'.
forms of seiki healing practice [not to be confused with
the modern 'Seiki Soho' healing] had been around since at least
the Edo period and some practitioners were certainly active around
the time Usui Sensei was teaching Reiki.
example, we know of one Seiki therapy group: the seiki
ryoho kenkyu jo (Seiki Treatment
Institute / Research Establishment) which was definitely active
in the late 1920's.
Also, Traditional Japanese Medicine (essentially Traditional Chinese
Medicine with a name-change) included 'Ki-jutsu' techniques (which
would later also be referred to as 'ki-ko' techniques) - originally
believed to have been derived from Qi Gung Hand Healing.
It has been said that Usui-sensei was a member of a 'group' called
Reijutsu Kai, which were met near Mount Kurama.
However, during the early part of the 20th century, Reijutsu wasn't
just a 'group' - rather, it was quite a large, flourishing 'movement'.
It would seem that what Usui-sensei belonged to was a local Association
(Kai) of which there were apparently a great many
in the Reijutsu movement.
A Shinto-related phenomenon, amongst Reijutsu's aims was the improvement
of health of the nation. Reijutsu made use of a variety of healing
methods including Reiki-like 'laying-on-of-hands' and healing
through religious rituals.
The Reijutsu movement became quite prominent, and practitioners
even travelled to Mongolia and gave lectures on their techniques
to Chinese. (As a result, it is said, elements of Reijutsu found
their way into Chinese Qi Gung practices.)
Then, there were (even in Usui's day) countless 'folk practitioners'
- including members of the supposedly suppressed Shugendo cults,
who utilised hand-healing (admittedly in conjunction with exorcism,
prayer and other esoteric practices).
And a great many of the spiritual groups, often referred to as:
'new religions' (shinko shukyo) or 'new religious groups', which
existed in Usui's time, were essentially 'healing sects', several
of which had materialised around a charismatic 'founder' who had
developed or 'received' healing powers.
of these new religious'/spiritual groups (- which generally tended
to incorporate elements from Shinto and Buddhist teachings -)
came into being as a result of their founders undergoing either
mystical visionary experiences of, or indeed actual possession
by, Kami (numinous beings), or sometimes, by Ancestral
Now, while most people, it seems, view Usui Sensei's 'Reiki
Experience' on Mount Kurama in terms of mystical connection with
an abstract 'Spiritual Universal Energy', it may be of interest
to note that, while the term 'Reiki' essentially implies: 'spiritual
essence', 'spiritual influence', or 'the effect of spirit', some
suggest the term may also be used to indicate the refer to the
influence of an Ancestral Spirit.