What is Jikiden Reiki

Jikiden Reiki Logo

This article is primarily written for and to help those who are looking to learn Reiki and are considering which is the right course for them, who have come across my website and  maybe for the first time the term Jikiden Reiki and wish to understand a bit more about it. My aim is to provide an insight into Jikiden Reiki, as well as highlight some of its characteristics.

Although it can be considered to be desirable to focus on our similarities, rather than our differences, in the context of understanding  what Jikiden reiki is, a comparison to other approaches to at least be able to see where Jikiden Reiki  sits in an environment of multiple variations of styles and approaches out there under the banner of 'Reiki' can be helpful. So better understanding the characteristics and methods of Jikiden Reiki, so helping you make a more informed choice as to the best direction for you in your study of Reiki.  Just today I have had a conversation with another person looking to learn Reiki who was trying to make sense of all the choices out there for Reiki training.

In a nut shell Jikiden Reiki is authentic Japanese Usui Reiki, as practised and taught in the late 1920s and 30s in Japan, with no western influence or adaption to the original teachings of the time. Most people assume, and why wouldn't they, that everything under the banner of Reiki is the same thing. It is a correct statement that Reiki energy is Reiki energy, regardless of style and to a degree they have strong similarities: they all channel energy through the practitioner's hands to the recipient; they originate from Usui sensei's Reiki system of healing and personal growth; and they all help people. Yet there are marked differences in understandings, teachings, techniques and applications between differing Reiki styles. Many in the professional Reiki community are completely unaware of this fact, so do not worry if this is new information for you.

Having personally had the pleasure of learning Reiki to teacher level in various styles of Reiki, I am grateful to all those who I have learnt from, I am writing this article with an understanding of what is taught in differing Reiki styles and that this understanding has come from teachings and professional practice rather than a place of academic research, or reading books. I have witnessed great healing in all Reiki styles I have learnt, for me with the knowledge and understanding of Reiki I have now, I have made a personal choice to practice and teach Jikiden Reiki exclusively. Jikiden means 'directly taught'. The significance of the word 'directly' being the teachings are not modified in any way as they are passed down by teachers to students. They are taught the same way as in Japan in Reiki's early days.

The Jikiden Reiki Institute was founded in 1999 by the late Chiyoko Yamaguchi and her son Tadao Yamaguchi. From first glance it may appear as though it would be a new style of Reiki having only been formed in 1999 but this is not the case. In forming the organisation it was important to choose a name to protected the integrity of the teachings and authenticity of the training. Hence the choice of Jikiden Reiki, which is now a trademark, with the Jikiden Reiki Institute based in Kyoto, Japan. Today, following Chiyoko sensei's death in 2003, Tadao sensei is the president, with Frank Arjava Petter (the prominent Reiki author and authority on Japanese Reiki history) as its vice president. It has official branches in various countries including the UK, of which I am one based in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, UK.

In order to understand some of the characteristics of Jikiden Reiki we need to overview some historical events. The roots of Jikiden Reiki came from the discovery in the mid-1990s that a direct student of Hayashi sensei, Chiyoko Yamaguchi sensei, was alive in Japan and had been practicing Reiki every day since 1938. Up until this discovery it was thought that no one was still alive who was directly taught Reiki by Hayashi sensei who was a prominent student of Usui sensei, the founder of Reiki. Hayashi sensei is widely acknowledged as having facilitated the spread of Reiki to the rest of the world as he taught Mrs Takata from Hawaii, in 1935. It was through Mrs Takata that Reiki spread from Hawaii to the USA and then globally and indeed the publicly taught Reiki teachings in the 1990s around the world, including Japan, came from lineages from Mrs Takata who  died in 1980. Both Chiyoko sensei and Mrs Takata were trained to Shihan (full teacher level) directly by Hayashi sensei in 1939 and 1937 respectively.

As Reiki spread in the USA, into Europe and then Asia the original Usui Reiki system was modified: key components were omitted, new approaches added, key focuses were diluted. With the traditional controls of who became a teacher being removed around the time of 1981. It was therefore an amended version of Reiki which was re-introduced to Japan in the mid-1980s.

It is only fair now to make the point that these adjustments supported Reiki's spread and indeed Reiki may not have survived globally without such amendment. However, the point is that by this stage the Reiki being taught had many differences from the Reiki taught by both Usui sensei in the 1920s and continued by Hayashi sensei in the late 1920s up until his death in 1940.

The term 'Western Reiki' is a term sometimes used to identify these amended teachings and is by no means meant in a disrespectful way, it is just a way of classifying what kind of Reiki, or what teachings are being described. The term tends to only be used by Japanese trained Reiki people anyway. In the context of this article I use the term to help in identifying differing Reiki teachings.

I have seen some Reiki teachers presenting their Reiki classes as traditional Japanese teachings when they are clearly not, bolting on some granted very useful Japanese Reiki techniques onto a Western Reiki syllabus. It is again important to note that any Reiki style has value in helping people and all styles have potential to work. So rather than saying that some of what is being taught is incorrect in the Western styles, it is better way to view such teachings as say being further away from the original teachings of Usui sensei to varying degrees. From a consumer point of view if you wish to learn authentic Japanese Usui Reiki, then understanding the differences is important in order for you to be able to make an informed decision as to what Reiki training course you would like to take.

So as I have already mentioned the way Reiki is taught within Jikiden Reiki comes from the teachings of Hayashi sensei, as taught to Chiyoko sensei in 1938 and 1939 (although she had been exposed to Reiki for many years prior to this time). She then passed on these teachings to her son Tadao sensei. The key point being that the culture and integrity of the Reiki teachings, or system is intact. With regards to the teachings themselves, they have a simplicity, yet depth within them. There is much emphasis on the Gokai (the guiding principles we live by as students of Reiki) to support us in life and our growth. You learn techniques that have disappeared in Western Reiki styles. There are key components of how Reiki was used in Japan in Usui sensei and Hayashi sensei's day that are not found in other Reiki courses.

In practical terms, the Reiju (termed attunement in western Reiki) you receive is again technically different from other Reiki styles. You can be confident that you are learning correct information regarding Reiki history and applications. You are trained in the traditional understanding of Byosen, which Usui sensei observed in treatments and can be classed as the cornerstone of Japanese Reiki and is the primary treatment method used in all Jikiden Reiki treatments. You learn other components that work in partnership with this understanding to enhance treatment effectiveness. You also learn how Japanese Reiki treatments are conducted, with long periods of time at locations, without the preset hand position sequences as commonly seen in many other Reiki styles. You will also learn a Japanese technique to maximise energy circulation after a Reiki treatment which further enhances the treatment effect (more details on course content can be found on my Jikiden Reiki courses pages).

Who becomes a Jikiden Reiki teacher also follows traditional ways. To become a teacher requires repetition in learning followed by permission to become an accredited Jikiden Reiki Shihan Kaku (Assistant Teacher) and Shihan (Teacher) is granted by the president of the Institute Tadao Yamaguchi (along with a handful of others in the world). Following various assessments and repetition of training including a further repetition of the assistant teacher course the grade of Shihan Kaku is granted which permits the teaching of the first (beginner) level of Jikiden Reiki Shoden. After a year or so of gaining experience teaching, further assessments are carried out, all training levels are repeated with the addition of a further teacher course before the grade of Shihan is granted. This permits the teaching of the second level, Okuden (deeper learning). Shihans can then become an official Jikiden Reiki branch.

For those of you with knowledge of other Reiki styles you will again notice distinct differences in Jikiden Reiki with regard to teacher levels. Rather than being a 'become a teacher and off you go' set up, it takes time and investment in both experience and repetition of training in order to gradually be permitted to teach the two levels that are the Jikiden Reiki system. For example in my case, at this time, in attaining Shihan (full teacher) I have taken both Shoden and Okuden levels (comparable to levels 1 and 2 in the west) four times (three times with Tadao sensei himself), Shihan Kaku twice plus my Shihan training. Furthermore, as set by Usui sensei and observed by Hayashi sensei, Reiki teachers are not permitted to create other teachers they simply train people to Shoden or Okuden, dependent on their own teacher grade. It is primarily the President of the organisation, so with Jikiden Reiki Tadao Yamaguchi, plus a handful of Dai-Shihans (Senior Teachers) globally, who are permitted to teach Shihan Kaku level, with an even smaller number who are permitted to teach the full Shihan level. These senior levels are granted on years of service and contribution to the Jikiden organisation rather than a course to ask to do. 

So from a practitioner perspective the complete Jikiden Reiki system is taught in the Shoden and Okuden levels. Teacher levels are purely for those who wish to teach and learn the Japanese Reiju method to be able to teach Reiki in others. This original Japanese way helps to preserve standards in teachings, and from a consumer view it is a good way of having confidence in the teacher's ability, knowing they are accredited by the central organisation. In Western Reiki styles, and therefore with most Reiki in the UK, a teacher can create another teacher with no pre-screening or ongoing observation or control, who then in turn can create more teachers and can modify the teachings at their discretion. There are some great Western Reiki teachers, what I am pointing out is the open approach to being and creating other teachers seen in other Reiki styles leads to a great variability in teaching quality as well as variations in teaching content. 

As was the case in 1920s and 30s Japan, there continues to be a great emphasis on the value of receiving Reiju (the process of clearing the channel to use Reiki energy) and there are events set up for the ongoing receiving of Reiju and to practice Jikdien Reiki, to build experience and confidence alongside other students of Jikiden Reiki. I hold these meetings every month. So Jikiden Reiki offers a high level of structured, on-going support to students, which again contrasts with many other styles of Reiki. This repetition in teachings adds depth to someone's study of Reiki. 

My view is that when repeating a course you are at a different place in terms of self awareness and growth, your view or perspective is at a different place, you have been using the techniques so your questions are coming from a place of some experience using the material and concepts previously taught, so the experience is reinforcing and supportive, deepening your study of Reiki. I personally found I wrote just as many notes the third time of repeating Shoden and Okuden as I did on the first occasion, and of course, with a different group come differing Q and A topics as well. Jikiden Reiki is set up to support this by offering opportunities to repeat Shoden and Okuden training at markedly reduced costs. What is more all UK pricing is fixed for all accredited Jikiden Reiki teachers in both the initial and repeating course fees by the Institute in Kyoto, Japan. 

Jikiden Reiki will tend to suit people who value authentic Japanese teachings, who value learning accurate information and teachings. My view is that there is value in everyone with an interest in Reiki taking Jikiden Reiki Shoden and Okuden level training, even if they do migrate towards more amended styles, at least you have correct core teachings as a foundation. Jikiden Reiki is practical, solid and authentic. For more information on taking Jikiden Reiki training click here


Shaun Mckeown is a specialist in authentic Japanese Reiki. Delivering Reiki treatments and teaching authentic Japanese Jikiden Reiki. Shaun also works as a Performance Coach, helping people reduce stress, free up time and create a life with better balance. Shaun is a strategic, creative problem solver with 20 years professional experience helping people with health, well-being, sport performance. The last 10 years specialising in Reiki. He has a BSc.(Hons) degree in Sport and Exercise Science, as well as experience coaching and teaching in exercise conditioning, holistic lifestyle and nutrition, sport performance as well as Reiki. So has both science and holistic perspectives. 

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Shaun Mckeown, disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.