Traditional Japanese Reiki vs Western Reiki: the differences unpacked and explained

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Last week on the blog we took a look at Reiki lineages and explained why it’s so important to understand the lineage of your Reiki teacher. In this week’s article we’d like to dive a little deeper into the topic and unpack the critical differences between Traditional Japanese Reiki vs Western Reiki. Let’s take a look.

Comparing Traditional Japanese Reiki and Western Reiki

Traditional Japanese ReikiWestern Reiki
Focus on Internal practices of meditations on the precepts, breathing techniques, hands on/off healing, developing clarity and mindfulnessFocus on External practices.
Focus on self empowerment, spiritual awakening and awareness.Focus on hand-based healing of self and others.
Based on the traditional Japanese energy system.Based on the Chakra system and New Age teachings.
Uses original mantras, symbols, and meditations taking your reiki practice to a deeper level so you can BE REIKI in daily life.Uses precepts and symbols more externally
Quick guide to the differences between Reiki lineages.

Origins of Western Reiki (Usui Shiki Ryoho) 

After Usui Mikao (founder of the Reiki system) passed away in 1926, within 10 years Reiki began to be taught in the West.

Hawayo Takata, an American born Japanese woman who had studied with one of Usui Mikao’s original Reiki Masters, is the person who first started teaching Reiki outside of Japan.

Mrs Takata wanted to make Reiki attractive to Americans and easy for them to understand and practice. At that time, western countries had had almost no exposure to Eastern religions and spiritual practices, and there were also sensitivities relating to the anything Japanese because of the second world war.

Unsurprisingly, she removed most of the references to Japanese energy system from her teachings, believing that the Hara breathing and meditation techniques would be too spiritual for westerners. Her primary focus was on the physical, mental and emotional healing powers of Reiki through reciting the precepts and hands on healing.

At the same time she did not issue manuals or instruction books, rather, she required her students to take their own notes during teaching sessions.

This may explain the reason why, when Hawayo Takata passed away in 1980, the western Reiki system began to digress. New teachers began incorporating the Chakra energy centres as well as New Age teachings into their methodologies.

Traditional Japanese Reiki (Usui Reiki Ryoho)

In the 1980s western Reiki Masters and historians travelled to Japan, eager to trace the original teachings and practices of Usui Mikao. They discovered a number of Usui Mikao’s original students still living and eventually, were able to study and practice within the lineage of traditional Japanese Reiki Masters.

With their new skills and knowledge, Reiki effectively moved to the west for the second time — but to a much more spiritually aware community and teachers who were interested in expanding their practice to include Reiki methods taught by Usui during his lifetime.

Traditional Japanese Reiki, also known as Usui Reiki Ryoho is based on the Japanese energetic system and is a personal spiritual journey, putting you on a path to enlightenment as well as physical, mental and emotional healing.


Why does Julie teach and practice Traditional Japanese Reiki rather than other lineages

Julie Heskins has studied Reiki under three different lineages but has been practicing Traditional Japanese Reiki also known as Usui Reiki Ryoho exclusively for more than a decade.

Julie originally studied Reiki to heal herself from significant physical ailments. As her practice deepened and her body became well again, she committed to her spiritual growth — ultimately drawn to the principles and original methods the way they were taught by Usui Mikao.  She continues to study with Frans Steine @ International House of Reiki and is committed to integrating the system into her daily life whilst encouraging her students to do the same.

Is Western Reiki real Reiki?

Yes. if your Reiki Master can demonstrate a lineage back to Reiki founder Usui Mikao and teaches the 5 Elements of Reiki you are practicing real Reiki, even if the methodologies are slightly different.

Is Traditional Japanese Reiki superior to other Reiki lineages?

Absolutely not. Traditional Japanese Reiki Masters and practitioners are not some sort of spiritual elite, they just embrace the system of Reiki as it was once taught — with Japanese methods and influences.

Is there anything wrong with the energy system of the Chakras?

Not at all, there is much to be gained by balancing your energy centres. Traditional Japanese Reiki does not teach the Chakras simply because it’s not the way that Usui Mikao practiced and taught Reiki.  The chakras are from India and Reiki is from Japan.

I’ve studied Reiki through another lineage, is there any benefit to learning Traditional Japanese Reiki?

Yes, absolutely. Learning the Japanese energy system, Reiki meditations, symbols and mantras as originally taught by Usui Mikao will give you tools to deepen your Reiki practice further\. You’ll also gain a more holistic understanding of your own Reiki lineage and how your line connects back to the system founder.

Does Julie teach Reiki refresher and lineage bridging courses?

Yes, please get in touch with Julie with a short note outlining your previous training and experience with Reiki. Julie is a highly experienced teacher and mentor who will help you reconnect to your practice and widen your Reiki knowledge.


2 thoughts on “Traditional Japanese Reiki vs Western Reiki: the differences unpacked and explained

  1. Very nice comparison contrast. I was delighted (and impressed) that you do not subscribe to the current attitude of “Every Reiki variant is poisoned but ours” that I’m so tired of hearing. If it works inward facing, it’s Reiki. If it’s outward facing, it’s Reiki.
    I’m enjoying your website – you’re a nice bunch of folks!
    Best Wishes ~ Patrick the Reiki Master near Disneyland CA USA

    1. Thank you Patrick. I’m glad you’re enjoying the website. All systems of Reiki work. My journey has led to the more traditional teachings and visiting Japan to see first hand the symbols on display in temples, understand their meanings and how the reiki precepts are lived in the culture. My original courses focused on hands on healing which was very valid at the start. I love how the system of Reiki is a lifelong journey.

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