Japanese Reiki: Differences with Western Reiki

Before I learned Jikiden Reiki I learned Western Reiki level one this was in 2003. It was my first encounter with Reiki and it was obvious that Reiki was something amazing. At the same time it raised many questions in me as Japanese person. Although I had a good experience many things did not make sense to me. These revolved around how the Japanese language parts were explained. Looking at the Japanese characters I saw different meaning to what I was being told. But at the same time I could feel energy and knew something good was going on. I wanted to go further into it. Looking into Japanese Reiki I learned about Jikiden Reiki,  which was just emerging from Japan and coming to the UK – perfect timing.

Japanese Reiki in Japan

The Reiki form widely practice in Japan still today comes from that which was introduced from Western Reiki teachers. Find out why traditional Japanese Reiki nearly died out on our Reiki History Page. During the time Reiki was spreading over the world the Yamaguchis and extended  family were practicing Reiki without realising the unique significance of their history. Once the Yamaguchis were found, and also Mikao Usui’s memorial stone things changed. The well known Reiki story was found to be quite different from the real story. When I learned Jikiden Reiki I learned a lot more and it made a lot more sense to me. I found so much clarity, understanding and value in Jikiden Reiki it has become a big part of my life.

Confusion About Japanese Reiki and Differences from Western Styles

Since I started teaching Jikiden Reiki I have read a lot about and met a lot of people of different Reiki styles. It seems to me that the main source of confusion about Reiki comes from the complexity of the Japanese language and the very different mind set Japanese have to most Westerners. This in itself makes Japanese and Western Reiki styles very different. But some techniques taught in Japan were not taught in the west for a long time, although some Western styles incorporated them later.

There are so many blended Western forms that this is hard to list a distinct set of differences. Usui Reiki is frequently presented as traditional or authentic when it is not. Common examples include use of the title ‘master’ or use of modern Kanji (Japanese characters). The modern Kanji (Japanese characters) for the word Reiki has a different (and undesirable) meaning in a Reiki context. Modern Kanji were not used in the time of the founder Mikao Usui, so are not authentic. Mastery is not a concept of traditional Reiki. In many Reiki systems a lot of stuff has been added which does not come originate in Japan. Popular examples are chakras or protection rituals.

Broadly, Japanese Reiki teaches to rely more on cultivating senstivity of hands over using hand positions (although there are hand positions). The mindset is very much less is more, and finding depth in the subtle. Typically the use of symbols and the like is very understated. The core teachings are not shared in person, not allowed to be placed on the internet. The most important aspects are giving Reiki the five principles (Gokai) and Reiju. The system is seen more as a that of a physical treatment, although it is also understood it could be considered spiritual healing. Students are taught how to use Reiki without tools such as crystals. Crucially only Tadao Yamaguchi and Frank Arjava Petter can create full Jikiden Reiki teachers as president and vice president of the Jikiden Reiki Institute.

The Myths and Truth About Japanese Reiki are Revealed

The Yamaguchi family, Frank Arjava Petter and others have done a lot of work to reveal the myths and truth of Reiki. Particularly in his latest book ‘This is Reiki’. The differences between Japanese and Western Reiki have been covered in detail by my Jikiden Reiki colleague and Dai Shihan Masaki Nishina in his excellent article ‘Western Reiki and Japanese Reiki; their cultural backgrounds’. There is no need for me to repeat what he has so eloquently said, so please take time to read it if you want to know more. Like me he had good knowledge of English and Japanese. Because he teaches both Western and Jikiden Reiki he can demonstrate how the two are fundamentally different in mch more detail than I can.

Ultimately both Japanese and Western Reiki are beneficial. The simplicity of Japanese Reiki will appeal to some more than others. Many people teach and practice both styles. So you can have the best of both worlds or you can devote yourself to one style like I have if you prefer. Personally I found Jikiden Reiki to be more powerful, more simple and yet deeper than other styles I have experienced, and I have never looked back.