*Taken from “Reiki; Hawayo Takata’s Story, by Helen
Haberly, Archedigm Press.
Hawayo Takata was born in 1900, Christmas eve at
Hanamaula, on Kuai Island, Hawaii. She was named Hawayo after
the newly formed territory. Her
father, a Japanese immigrant, worked the sugar cane fields. When
she was 12, Hawayo, like all the children in the village, went
to work in the cane fields. Her job was to follow behind the cutters,
slicing off the tops of the cane and filling large bags with the
She was, however, a small, delicate child and was
unable to keep up. With the help of the other villagers, though,
she managed to make it through that first summer. When the ordeal
of the harvest was over, she sat on the ground crying. Lifting
her hands to heaven, she prayed, ‘God, please let me do
better things with my hands, and do not send be back to the cane
fields, ever again.’
So, when the principal of a nearby church boarding
school approached her parents to hire her out as his assistant
to teach first grade, it seemed, indeed that prayers were answered.
She lived and worked diligently at the school and
studied in the evenings. At 14, she got another job in a soda
fountain, working part time, Saturdays.
Not so long after that, she was offered a job as
pantry girl, at double the salary, on a nearby plantation. She
lived and worked on this plantation for the next 24 years, gradually
working her way up to head housekeeper. Here she met and married
Saichi Takata, with whom she had two daughters.
Saichi was very involved in community affairs and
served on the local Welfare Board, the first person of asian descent
to do so.
Saichi died in 1930 at the age of 34. Saichi had
left instructions that his passing was not to be grieved, so,
while missing him greatly, Hawayo threw herself into her work.
In 1935, the stress caught up with her and she suffered a nervous
breakdown and developed painful abdominal symptoms and respiratory
problems. Surgery was indicated for the abdominal condition but
the respiratory condition prevented the use of anaesthetics.
Completely at an impasse, Hawayo, now only 35 but
feeling 60, prayed for guidance. A few days later her sister died
suddenly and it fell to Hawayo to tell her parents, who had in
the meantime returned to Japan after nearly 40 years in the Islands.
Rather than write them a letter, Hawayo decided to go to Japan
and tell them in person. As well, she would seek medical help
for her illnesses.
These were not her only reasons for wishing to go
to Japan. Her husband Saichi, had also left instructions that
he was to be buried in his homeland, Japan. Hawayo still had his
ashes waiting to be taken to the Ohtani Temple in Kyoto for consecration
So she went to Japan.
After the services for her sister in Tokyo, she
entered the hospital where surgeons confirmed Gallstones, a tumour,
and appendicitis as the sources of her abdominal pain and scheduled
her for surgery.
The following morning, prepped and waiting in the
operating room, eyes closed, and listening to the bustle and chatter
as preparations were being made, Hawayo heard a voice, quite clearly,
saying, “this operation is unnecessary.” She opened
her eyes quickly and looked around, but there was no one near
her. A second time she heard the voice, and a third, even louder.
The voice told her to ask the head surgeon.
She slipped off the table and confronted the Head
Surgeon. “Do you know of any other treatment I could try?”
The surgeon replied that he did, actually, but that it would take
much time, and she would have to commit to it for as long as it
took, months, maybe a year, maybe more.
Hawayo replied that she could commit up to two years.
Her health was her main concern at this time. Everything else
she might have wanted to accomplish in life depended on regaining
The doctor said OK.
Hawayo dressed and was taken by the surgeon’s
sister, who also happened to be the dietitian in the hospital
to a clinic in another part of the city. They were welcomed by
the wife of the clinic’s director, Mrs. Hayashi.
When it came her turn, Hawayo entered without fear.
She came into a large room with 8 couches and 16 practitioners,
two per table, working away under the watchful eye of the clinic’s
director, Dr. Chujiro Hayashi.
Fully clothed, she lowered herself onto one of the
couches and 2 practitioners began their work, one at the head
and another at the abdomen. As their hands touched lightly, they
commented on what they were sensing and confirming the previous
diagnosis, “there is a lump here, could be a tumour”,
and “the Gallbladder is not too good.”
Wondering how these men could know what her problem
was without a lot of painful poking and prodding, Hawayo thought
they must have some sort of machine. The next day again, she went
to the clinic. This time she made a thorough examination of the
couch looking for any evidence of some sort of machine. She even
frisked the practitioners looking for any kind of gadget.
Noticing the commotion, Dr. Hayashi came over and
asked there was a problem? Upon hearing Hawayo’s concerns,
he smiled and said, yes, there is energy involved but it is not
electricity, it is Reiki, “Universal Life Energy.”
Not understanding, Hawayo asked for more information.
Dr. Hayashi explained that it was something like radio. You have
radio in Hawaii do you not? When the radio broadcasts there are
no physical lines connecting the station to your radio, yet when
you turn your radio on and tune in to a station, you receive what
they are sending. Reiki is like that. Reiki is energy so big,
we cannot measure it, so deep we cannot fathom it, so we call
it Reiki. It is very simple. When we put our hands on, contact
is made and the energy flows. When we want to stop we simply take
our hands away.”
This made some sense to Hawayo since there was no
mistaking that she could feel the heat and the vibration when
‘Reiki’ hands were place upon her.
For the next three weeks Hawayo stayed in the hospital,
but went daily for Reiki treatments, after which she was feeling
very much better. She also talked much about Reiki with the dietitian,
who was also, it turns out, a Reiki practitioner.
Hawayo determined that she would also learn this
‘Reiki.’ At first her requests were rebuffed. Reiki
was not for outsiders, she was told. Still she pressed her case
and ultimately convinced her doctor to write a letter to Dr.Hayashi,
asking that she be allowed to join the association and take the
This was no ordinary letter. It was handwritten,
on a scroll, which meant it became a matter of honour. To refuse
the request would mean a serious loss of face. So, the association
relented and Hawayo took the class.
After 3 months her respiratory problems alleviated
and after 6 months she felt well enough to become an intern in
Hayashi’s clinic. She moved in with the Hayashis and went
For the next year she lived the life of an intern.
Up at 7 AM every morning helping out around the clinic, running
errands etc., until noon. In the afternoon she made house calls,
ran more errands, cleaned up and did anything else that needed
doing. There were few breaks and fewer days off. Sometimes she
went out with Dr. Hayashi to help out with his clients. Often
she went alone.
After a year, she received her second degree Reiki.
In Japan, this is the practitioner’s level.
In 1937, Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii, having
completed her training. A few weeks later, Dr. Hayashi arrived
with his daughter to teach Reiki in the Islands and set up clinics.
After 6 months, Dr. Hayashi returned to Japan, but before he did,
at a farewill banquet, he proclaimed Mrs. Takata a Reiki ‘Master’.
This meant that she had the necessary qualifications to teach.
The next year, she took the opportunity to act as
interpreter for the Archbishop of the Jodo mission on his tour
of California on the mainland. After the tour was over, she continued
on to Chicago and took courses at the National College of Drugless
Physicians which she completed in July of 1938.
Returning to Hawaii, word of her successes with
Reiki healing spread quickly and almost overnight she was receiving
requests from all over the Islands.
In 1939, on a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii,
she bought a large house on an acre of land at Hilo and converted
it into a clinic with living quarters for her and all her family.
In early 1940, Mrs. Takata dreamt of Dr. Hayashi
pacing back and forth 3 times in a white silk Kimono. The dream
disturbed her. Some time later, she felt compelled to go to Japan
and see him. Upon her arrival, Mrs. Hayashi told her that her
teacher had decided to go into transition, but had not yet set
the date. She had come too soon. Mrs. Takata was told to go away,
but when she was summoned she should waste no time coming.
While waiting, Mrs. Takata went to Kyoto for training
in Hydrotherapy. On May 09, she received the summons. Upon her
arrival at Atami, where the Hayashi’s were then staying,
all seemed normal, even cheerful. At 1.00 PM, Dr. Hayashi entered
in the white Kimono Mrs. Takata had seen in her dream.
Over the next 20 minutes, in front of all the guests,
and after three separate and distinct signs, Dr. Hayashi went
into transition. He was 62.
Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii some time later,
leaving Mrs. Hayashi to look after the clinic in Tokyo.
On December 02, 1941, war began between Japan
and the USA, with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour.
It was not for several years that the two women met again,
well after the war. During the War, Mrs. Takata kept a pretty
low profile, but after the war she moved from Hilo back
to Honolulu, opening another Reiki clinic and where she
remained, healing and teaching until her death in 1980.
In the 1973, came the first invitation to travel to the
mainland to teach a class. Over the next 7 years she traveled
extensively around the mainland, teaching. As her teaching
load increased, she realized she needed help and began to
initiate other ‘masters’ who could also teach.
In all she initiated 22.
At her death in 1980, Mrs. Takata had yet
to proclaim a successor; someone to step into the role of
Grandmaster, as Mrs. Takata had been dubbed. While it was
commonly assumed that Phyllis Lei Furumoto, her granddaughter,
would assume the mantel for whatever reason she was never
proclaimed. She is associated with a group called The Reiki
Mrs. Takata’s decision not to formally
declare her, created a void in the ranks of Reiki.
Into this void, stepped another master, Barbara
Weber Ray, declaring herself, the Grandmaster of Reiki and
rightful successor to Mrs. Takata.
Ms. Ray founded the American International Reiki Association
and called her form of Reiki The Radiance Technique.
The main difference between the two streams
is the Reiki Alliance is somewhat closed, retaining some
its Japanese influence and seeing itself as a blend of Japanese
and American styles. The Reiki Alliance requires much from
its members, including a $10,000.00 fee.
Weber Ray’s group sees itself as more
American in style, believes that Reiki belongs to everyone
and as such requires much less from its members, including
a fee of only $1,000.00 or less. In this way Reiki is much
more accessible to many more people.
There is a third group of Reiki people, who
are independent and are not affiliated with any group or
association. Among this group there is a wide variety of
teachings and standards.
Some of Mrs. Takata's original students continue
to teach, including Paul Mitchell, and Barbara McCullough.
Others have retired or passed on, Beth Gray and Bethel Phaig.
Of the rest, little is known, at least to this writer.
So, this is Mrs. Takata’s legacy. It
is said that she initiated each of the 22 masters in a slightly
different way. In this way, she encouraged the individual
talents of each master.
Mrs. Takata's 22 Masters
Patricia Bowling Ewing
Phyllis Lei Furumoto
John Harvey Gray
Barbara Weber Ray
In the 25 years since Mrs. Takata's death, Reiki
has spread throughout the world in a myriad of forms. In 1997,
Frank Arjava Petter wrote Reiki Fire,
and in 1999, The Legacy of Dr. Usui,
followed up in 2001 by The Original Handbook
of Dr. Usui. These are important books which have had a
deep impact on the practice of Reiki, not only in the West, but
in Japan. His journey to the east and subsequent discoveries related
in these books cast a great deal of doubt on Mrs. Takata's version
of the Reiki story.
For example it is probable that Dr. Usui was ever a Christian,
or that he ever travelled to Chicago. It is certainly not true,
as Mrs. Takata stated, that Dr. Hayashi was Dr. Usui's favourite
and passed on the 'one true Reiki' to him. It is also not true
that all the Reiki masters died out in Japan during the war leaving
Mrs. Takata as the sole practitioner on the planet.
It has been suggested that Mrs. Takata told the stories she did
in order to make a Japanese practice more acceptable to her American
students. After all, at the time, Japan was still viewed as the
enemy and anything Japanese no doubt, suspect.
I will not go further into Frank Petter's work here, but all his
books are, in my opinion must reads for anyone at all interested
in the History, theory and practice of Reiki. Many have tossed
the old stories into the trash as somehow being less than the
truth (as Petter, of course, himself and others see it).