From May 6th to 14th, 2019, 15 Reiki students participated in a pilgrimage to the sites in Japan that hold historical and spiritual importance for all Reiki practitioners. Led by Christopher Tellez of the SF Reiki Center and historian Dr. Justin Stein, and accompanied by tour guide & translator Yoshie Hara, the tour was planned by Phyllis Lei Furumoto, Grandmaster of Usui Shiki Ryoho, for students of the SF Reiki Center and the NYC Reiki Center.
The tour began in Kyoto on May 6th with the goal of helping us connect to the sites, spirituality, and practices that would have influenced Mikao Usui during his life and potentially contributed to his discovery of Reiki. Kyoto is full of sacred and historical sites, and we could have stayed a few weeks and not have seen all we wanted to there. Students had the rewarding opportunity to join the weekly Reiki Circle of Kyoto-based Reiki Sensei Hyakuten Inamoto. We spent a day on the historical and serene Mt. Hiei, home of the Enryakuji Temple, the UNESCO World Heritage site which houses the Eternal Light, said to be burning for more than 1,200 years.
After three days of touring Kyoto, we took the local train to Kurama and stayed in the sumptuous and beautiful Kurama Onsen, a traditional inn with both indoor and outdoor hot springs. The Onsen kindly provides a shuttle van from the train station, and when we wanted to get the the steps of Mount Kurama, the shuttle driver dropped us off, saving us a bit of walking. For three days we climbed Mount Kurama. The first day we were encouraged to climb silently without guidance, taking in the energy and spirit of the place. The second day, Reiki Historian Dr. Justin Stein guided our trip on the mountain, explaining what Usui Sensei would have seen, what the religious environment would have been like, what spiritual practices would have been on the mountain then, and helping us connect to the Shinto and Buddhist shrines and rituals of the mountain. We climbed up high past the main temple to the tree root path and the Osugi Gongen where it is believed Usui Sensei sat for his 21-day meditation. Many of us meditated there or exchanged Reiki treatments. Some sent Reiki silently or tearfully to the mountain in immense gratitude. The third day was free time, almost everyone returned to the mountain, and many climbed over it to explore the picturesque riverside town of Kibune, home to many restaurants, shops and more gorgeous outdoor temples.
A privately chartered bus took us to our next destination, Taniai Village in the Yamagata District of Gifu Prefecture. In the small town of Taniai, many families today bear the name of Usui, and we saw the name on a noodle factory, a soya store, and an auto mechanic shop. There are several sites of historical importance to students of Reiki. We visited and sat in meditation in the temple of the Buddhist community to which young Usui and his family belonged. And, perhaps most excitingly, we were guided to the entrance of a local Shinto temple where the names of Mikao Usui and his brothers are inscribed as the donors of the stone gateway in 1925. There is also a wonderful modern birthplace monument to Mikao Usui erected near that spot by Japanese Reiki Sensei Hiroshi Doi in September 2018. Following a wonderful day in Taniai we enjoyed another night of soaking in the thermal waters of the Hida Sanso Ryokan, where everyone enjoyed sweeping views of the onsen-famous town of Gero from their rooms. Many took relaxing walks along the river in the evening or through the mountainside Onsenji Temple, just steps from our lodging.
Our final destination of the trip was the great city of Tokyo, and we arrived in style on a JR “Bullet” train. We stayed in a Western style high-rise hotel in Akasaka overlooking the Imperial Palace and its extensive gardens. After dinner on the first night, Dr. Justin Stein took us on a walking tour to see the spot recorded in government documents as the site of Chujiro Hayashi’s Reiki hospital. The next morning, we left by subway to find the cemetery housing Mikao Usui’s memorial stone. In typical Japanese fashion, we carried in water and traditional dippers from a storage building in the cemetery and each took turns washing the memorial stone and sweeping away any debris around it. It was a moving and beautiful experience for all of us. We also had a chance to visit the Meiji Shrine with Dr. Stein and learn about the deep connections between Usui’s beliefs and practices and the Emperor’s philosophy and poetry. After breakfast the next morning, we headed to the airport or departed for our various destinations, taking with us a lifetime of lessons, memories, and friendships from eight non-stop days.
As a Master, I can truly say this was a pilgrimage for me and my students. Having historical information from Justin Stein made all the difference in our understanding the times of Usui and connecting to him. I highly encourage any student of Reiki to join a similar tour, and it is why Reiki Centers of America has committed to offering them regularly.
Japan Reiki Tour
A Pilgrimage to Japan for Students of Reiki
October 9-16, 2020
Accompanied by Reiki guide & translator Yoshie Hara, and Reiki Master Christopher Tellez of the San Francisco Reiki Center, we’ll start in Kyoto on October 9th to connect to the spirit of Japan and learn the historical context of the times in which Mikao Usui Sensei lived. Then we’ll go to Kurama, stay in a traditional Japanese onsen with time & space to exchange Reiki, and soak in the healing thermal waters. We’ll ascend Mt. Kurama daily, visiting the sacred spots Usui would have experienced as he climbed the mountain for his 21-day fast and meditation. We will also descend the mountain in Kibune, one of the most beautifully scenic riverside towns in Japan.