Takata, Hawayo (1900-1980)

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Takata, Hawayo (1900-1980)

Hawayo Takata, the teacher who brought Reiki healing to the West, was born on December 23, 1900, to a Japanese family in Hawaii. At the age of 16, she married Saichi Takata. She gave birth to two daughters and she settled into the quiet life as a housewife in the growing Hawaiian Japanese-American community. Following her husband's death in 1930, she sought employment at a nearby plantation. She worked her way up to became the owner's housekeeper and then bookkeeper within a few years.

However, during the early 1930s Takata's health deteriorated. When in 1935 her sister died and it became her duty to travel to Japan to take the news of the death to her parents personally, she used the occasion to seek out some Japanese doctors. She located a surgeon, but just before she was to submit to an operation, she decided against it. Instead, she asked for a referral to an alternative doctor who did not do surgery. As it happened, the sister of the surgeon was a Reiki healer. The doctor referred Takata to Chujiro Hayashi (1878-1941), a former naval officer who had opened a clinic based on Reiki. After four months she was healed.

Takata asked Hayashi to train her as a healer. At first he refused, as she was considered an American. However, her persistence was rewarded, and in the spring of 1936, he included her and several others in a class for basic Reiki training. The following spring she was able to take Reiki Master training, from which she emerged as the 13th and last Reiki Master he initiated.

Shortly after becoming a Master, Takata returned home and opened a small clinic similar to Hayashi's in Kapaa, Hawaii. Hayashi visited at the beginning of 1938, and while in Hawaii named Takata as his successor. A few months later, she took the opportunity to come to the mainland as the translator for a group of Buddhist ministers making a tour of the West Coast. She stayed behind to attend the National College of Drugless Physicians, a naturopathic school in Chicago, Illinois.

Hayashi died in 1941. Meanwhile, in Hawaii, Takata operated quietly through the World War II (1939-45) and postwar years, during which time the Hawaiian Japanese received much of the anger for the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Takata continued as a Reiki healer in Hawaii for several decades. It was only with her aging without a successor that Takata decided to start teaching others as Reiki healers. More importantly, she opened those teachings to those outside of the Japanese American community. In the fall of 1973 she traveled to Puget Sound to offer a first class on Reiki for mainland students. This class launched her brief public career and introduced the public to the Reiki system. Two years later she took the additional step and for the first time trained a new Reiki Master.

The decision to train Masters became one of her more controversial actions. She concluded that the Master status was a thing of value and that the best way to communicate its worth to Westerners was to charge for it. She asked a fee of $10,000.00 U.S. During the remaining five years of her life, she initiated 22 Masters.

In 1979, the year before she died, she named two of the Masters as Grand Masters, her daughter Phyliss Furumoto and Barbara Ray a healer from Atlanta, Georgia. Takata died on December 11, 1980.


Haberly, Helen L. Reiki: Hawayo Takata's Story. Olney, Md.: Archedigm Publications, 1997.

Stein, Diane. Essential Reiki: A Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Art. Freedom, Calif.: Crossing Press, 1995.