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Jikiden Reiki® - What's the Difference?

Often people contact me with the question above. My answer is usually to explain that Jikiden Reiki is pure authentic Japanese Reiki. Sometimes that leads to more questions. My hope is that this page will help clear up some questions that you may have. If not, feel free to contact me with the questions you might have.

Probably the most common question we receive - "What do you mean by 'authentic Japanese Reiki?".

You might be curious about this as well. You may even be thinking something like - "Doesn't ALL Reiki come from Japan?" The simple answer is of course 'YES'. A deeper, more detailed explanation would be to point out that what is commonly referred to as simply 'Reiki' today does ORIGINATE from Japan. However, it should be understood that since Reiki left Japan in the mid 1930s, the manner in how it is practiced has changed a great deal. Especially since the early 1980s. Techniques, concepts and approaches were brought into the practice and the original ideas and attitudes - as practiced by the Founder, Mikao Usui and his early students - were discarded and lost. Some traditional concepts that were poorly understood, or even mis-understood were completely dropped from practice or replaced with concepts from other traditions. The influence from different spiritual systems and other healing modalities also brought significant changes to how Reiki was practiced in the West and created even further misunderstandings and a sense of cultural disconnect. Today there are literally thousands of Reiki styles available. Originally there was just one. Many of these newer systems do have some commonalities with how Reiki was originally practiced but most have also moved in other directions.


At Reiki with Jotaro, we practice JIKIDEN REIKI which is a style of practice that was founded to preserve the original teachings of 心身改善臼井靈氣療法 - Shinshin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho (Usui Reiki Method for Improvement of the Body & Mind) which is the original name used for Reiki by the Founder - Mikao Usui. Jikiden Reiki is 100% the original teachings, passed down completely unchanged and free from any non-Japanese influences. Unlike many other styles of practice, Jikiden Reiki did not leave Japan until the first foreign seminar was taught in 2003. This means that Jikiden Reiki has maintained a unique cultural connection to Japan that is considered an essential element to how we practice Reiki. This cultural connection offers a consistent clarity not found in most other styles of Reiki practice.

It is for that reason, that we say we teach and practice 'authentic Japanese Reiki'. This is not an issue of elitism. We do not say this to speak poorly of the other styles of Reiki that are being practiced. We are not in a competition with other teachers or practitioners. It is just a fact and is stated as such to inform others of how we practice and exactly what sets our practice apart from other systems of Reiki practice.

Jikiden Reiki is the only known source for the original way of practice.

What makes Jikiden Reiki different from other styles of Reiki practice?

Jikiden Reiki is unique in many ways when compared to the many other styles of Reiki available. These differences are found in how Jikiden Reiki approaches Reiki and in the pure cultural connections we emphasize throughout the practice. Below is a list which explains some of the most significant differences.

  • Why is it called Jikiden Reiki?
    When Chiyoko Yamaguchi was first discovered as a still-living student of Chujiro Hayashi, many people traveled to Japan to meet her. She was frequently asked to teach what she learned from Hayashi sensei. At first, she declined to teach Reiki, but as she met more people, she realized how much Reiki practice had changed since she had learned from Hayashi sensei. She started to fear that the original teachings would disappear if she did not start to share what she knew. Once the decision to teach was made, Chiyoko was encouraged to give a name to what she would be teaching. She originally wanted to call it Shinshin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho. She was told that it was no good because it was such a long name. She then suggested Usui Reiki Ryoho, to which she was told that other people were already calling what they teach that. The name 'Jikiden Reiki' came to her as a way to emphasize that the Reiki she was teaching is 'directly taught' in the same way as she was taught by Hayashi sensei. The word 'Jikiden', if you look it up in a Japanese dictionary, will usually be translated as 'directly taught' or 'direct teaching'. This of course is true, but the term holds a much deeper conceptual meaning. On a deeper level, it means to maintain the teachings in a pure or unchanged manner. To preserve the teachings as originally taught and not adding to or changing the teachings in any way. In 1999, Chiyoko and Tadao Yamaguchi established the Jikiden Reiki Kenkyukai (Institute) as a way to pass on the Reiki as taught by Hayashi. I (Jotaro) like to say that Jikiden Reiki is the original Shinshin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho, as taught by the Jikiden Reiki Kenkyukai in Kyoto Japan.
  • A unique cultural connection to Japan, the birthplace of Reiki.
    Reiki originated in Japan. When it first was introduced to the West in 1937, it maintained the practice in the same manner in which it was practiced in Japan. However, due to the situation after World War II, many changes were made in hopes to make Reiki more acceptable to non-Japanese. As more time passed, even further changes were made. These changes removed much of the traditional Japanese aspects of the practice. With more time, practitioners started to add in methods from other healing arts or spiritual traditions. The art of Reiki became very linked with the 'New Age' movement in the 1980s bringing about even more changes. It is not to be said that these changes were necessarily bad. Many of these changes helped Reiki practice survive into the present day. Some of the changes helped the practice become well known Internationally, allowing for the spread of Reiki around the World. It was also these same changes that made Chiyoko sensei realize that she should share what she learned with the World. Since Jikiden Reiki stayed in Japan until 2003, it stayed free from the changes that happened elsewhere. Chiyoko Yamaguchi, and many of her family members continued to practice as they were taught all those years before. They did not change or add anything to the practice. Since they preserved the teachings, in Japan, keeping true to the original ideals and approaches of what Hayashi sensei had taught, Jikiden Reiki does not contain any traces of the cultural confusion found in many other styles. The culture of Reiki was originally the culture of Japan. When we learn to understand aspects of Japanese culture as they relate to our Reiki practice, a clarity to our understandings of why things are done in certain ways can be found.
  • Completely free from the influence of other modalities or non-Japanese sources.
    The teachings and practices passed on in Jikiden Reiki are the exact same as what were taught by Usui sensei and Hayashi sensei. Verified to truly be the same methods as learned by the multiple family members of Chiyoko Yamaguchi. Continually practiced since the 1930s. Teachings that only come from Japan. Not India. Not Tibet. Not Egypt or Atlantis.
  • Jikiden Reiki maintains the proper traditional Japanese method of transmission.
    Jikiden Reiki, like other traditional Japanese arts and ways follows what is known as the Iemoto system of transmission. This same system is found in other classical Japanese arts such as Chado (tea ceremony), Shodo (calligraphy), Ikebana (flower arrangement) and Koryu Bujutsu (old style martial arts). The Iemoto system as it relates to Jikiden Reiki is as follows: Every person starts with shoden (level one) regardless of previous Reiki experience or training. Certain requirements must be met before the student can proceed on to the next level of training. Only authorized Dai-Shihan (Senior Teachers) can teach the Shihan-kaku level. Shihan-kaku (Assistant Teachers) can only only teach shoden (level one) of Jikiden Reiki. Only the Daihyo (Representative) or Daihyo Daiko (Vice Representative) can teach the Shihan level. Shihan (Full Teachers) can teach both the shoden and the okuden (levels one and two) of Jikiden Reiki. In Jikiden Reiki, the learning process is slower and more controlled. In order to become a teacher, certain requirements must be met. This is to ensure that when someone becomes a teacher in Jikiden Reiki, they actually understand the material they are supposed to teach. The student cannot go from a novice to a teacher in a single weekend. A person with training in another style of practice cannot come to Jikiden Reiki and take their next level of training. They must start over with the shoden level (level one). This is to ensure that the teachings are both properly understood and properly maintained. Allowing someone to join at the teacher level from another style can create a lot of confusion. Most modern styles of Reiki do not have this.
  • Traditionally, Reiki was dealing with the here and now.
    In Western styles of Reiki practice, it is common to see practitioners claiming that they are "sending Reiki into the past/future". From a traditional perspective, this is not possible. Originally, Reiki teachings were aimed at the present moment. If someone needs healing from the trauma of a past event, we treat it in the here and now. If a person is worried about an up-coming event in their life, we can treat them now to assist them in dealing with that event if/when it happens.
  • Simple, practical and down-to-earth.
    Jikiden Reiki stays true to the original methods and beliefs of Shinshin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho. As a practice, it is free from the many questionable features found in many other styles of practice. Jikiden Reiki does not have: 1. Chakras 2. Psychic readings 3. Essential oils 4. Invocation of spirit guides or angels 5. Complex rituals
  • How the 'reiki energy' is viewed.
    In most of the modern styles of Reiki, the reiki energy is said to be intelligent. It is believed that the energy will go to wherever it is needed. The traditional view is different. Reiki is seen as a mysterious energy, but it is not thought to be intelligent on its own. It is thought that the body, not the energy, is intelligent. If the hands are placed on the recipient's body, on the area of complaint, the body will use the energy as it is needed. The body knows what is wrong and it is responsible for the healing. This is a primary reason we actively treat the issue of the recipient. By placing the hands near as possible to the complaint, the reiki energy has a shorter distance to travel allowing for more reiki to be used on that issue. This is a significant difference in thinking.
  • Differences in how reiki treatments are done.
    Jikiden Reiki uses what I (Jotaro) would call an 'ACTIVE' approach to giving reiki treatment. Most other style of Reiki use what could be called a 'PASSIVE' approach to treatment. To explain, it is easier to start with the 'passive' method. In this approach, a practitioner uses a routine of standardized set of hand positions. Often, the practitioner will start at the head of the recipient and work towards the feet. They believe that the reiki energy is intelligent and will go to where it is needed. This manner of treatment can still benefit the recipient greatly. Jikiden Reiki does not utilize a fixed set of hand placements for treatment. It is not to say that this approach is bad, it just does not follow the thinking of what was taught by the Founder, Mikao Usui or Chujiro Hayashi. In Jikiden Reiki, a more 'active' approach is used. Usui sensei once said in an interview, "If there is a complaint with the eyes, treat the eyes. If the complaint is the stomach, treat the stomach." Practitioners using this approach will place their hands on the area of complaint. When there, they will perceive sensations in their hands that we call 'byosen'. By observing the byosen, the practitioner can know where to put the hands and for how long to stay in that spot. This method of treatment, since it directly addresses the issue is usually very effective and brings results quickly. To learn more about the concept of byosen, one can study the shoden level of Jikiden Reiki.
  • The Reiki Shirushi (Symbols).
    In Western styles of Reiki there is often a great deal of emphasis on the Reiki symbols. New symbols are 'created' and used in many different ways. There is often a mindset that one symbol is more powerful than another, or that having more symbols is better for your practice. Western Reiki also often states that a person has to be 'attunded' to each symbol in order to use it. Traditionally, the Reiki shirushi (symbols) had very specific uses. Serving one or two unique purposes. Because of this, Jikiden Reiki continues to use the shirushi in the traditional way, at the proper time and with the proper intentions. We do not attune a person to a shirushi, it is simply introduced at the appropriate time in the training. Jikiden Reiki does not have an idea that the shirushi is a special or powerful thing, but just a tool we can use when needed. As an additional note, in 1981 - one year after the death of Hawayo Takata (the person who brought Reiki out of Japan) - several of her students met to pick a successor for her teachings. They also discussed what they each had learned and found a lot of variations. One such variation was in how many of them drew the Reiki symbols. They picked the symbols they would teach based on what they felt was the most common of the variations. Today on the internet, you can find hundreds of variations on the Reiki symbols. In Jikiden Reiki, we use only the shirushi (symbols) that were taught by Chujiro Hayashi. When Chiyoko Yamaguchi decided to start teaching, she and her son - Tadao Yamaguchi - visited several other family members to confirm Chiyoko's memory of seminar content along with the shirushi. She wanted to be sure that they were passing on everything correctly. When they consulted with other family members, they found that there was no variation in the shirushi thereby confirming that they were remembered correctly.
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