Adventures in the search for Usui's Teachings


These stories are part of our recent quest to try to discover the true story of the Usui system. We offer this information at face value and leave the drawing of any conclusions to the reader. Our studies are ongoing and this page will be updated when we have more to tell.

Early studies
Dave's trip to Kuramayama
NEW: Quest in China
NEW: pad Thai, beans and rice!
Dave's visit to Tatsumi
Melissa's visit to Tatsumi
An experience with some students of Usui - An excerpt from Melissa Rigall's Diary
Dave and Laurie Anne's Blog: Visit to Japan, October 2001

Early studies in the Usui system

by Melissa Rigall

The Port of Essaouira

In the winter of 1971 I was vacationing in Morocco with a group of friends that were in my qigong class. We chose to camp close to the Atlantic Ocean in a small village south of the town of Essaouira. One day an odd looking guy came into the village. He wore a robe and sandals and had a leather bag over his shoulder. He watched us as we did our morning qigong warmups on the wide beach. He intoduced himself as Yuji Onuki and offered to teach our small group something that he had learned in Japan, his home country. He was a student of a guy named Toshitoro Eguchi who had worked with Mikao Usui for a few years around 1922.

We were taught a beautifully simple method of balance and harmony. There was no judgement, no guiding of the QI and everything was like a meditation in movement.

After the death of a relative in March 2000, I was surprised to receive a few pages that had been handed out by Onuki as part of the training he had given us. I had totally forgotten about the notes which turned out to confirm much of what Tatsumi had passed on to us, including the origins of the symbols and an insight into the meaning of the Usui Affirmations.

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Dave's trip to Kuramayama

The Kurama Fire Festival

During April 1995 I made a further trip to Japan in order to visit some of the new friends I had made there. The cherry trees were in full bloom.

I set off to Kyoto on the famous high speed "bullet" train. On arrival I made for the tourist office to obtain accomodation. It was here that I came across a man in his 60s who spent his days as a 'goodwill guide'. This man had contacts in the various temples of Kyoto and managed to get me passes to see one of the formal gardens not open to the public. I also found myself later in one of the temple libraries.

My hotel was a traditional inn next door to the Doshisha Christian University. This was rather ironic seeing that Usui had never really taught there!

The next morning I set off for Demachiyagani railway station for the ride on the Eizan Mountain Railway to Kurama. As we pulled out of the station it began to snow. The further we went the more it came down! Being a resident of Edmonton, snow is no stranger, but this stuff came down in thick wet chunks!

We arrived at the end of the line. I walked to the entrance of the temple and paid my fee. A cable car took me to the middle level which has the statue of the Amida Buddha. I began to climb the mountain (it is only 1700 feet high), following the wooden steps pinned into the earth and rock.

At one point in the climb I noticed an old man who was waving a knobbly walking stick in the air. As I looked at him he pointed the stick toward a stand of Japanese cedar trees and then did a bow. I set off in the direction indicated and came upon an area of ground about three feet in diameter and almost circular that had no snow on it at all. In fact the ground was completely dry even though it was open to the sky. I looked back for the old man but he was no longer there.

I stayed within this circle for several minutes. I was getting really cold and set off along the path once more. After about 40 minutes of walking I arrived at the Kibune shrine. It was then a 20 minute walk along a country road to get back to the railway station and something hot to drink.

As the train started off on its downhill journey to Kyoto I noticed that the snow was already easing off. I was later told that it snows frequently in this area during winter and spring. Most pilgrims come to worship at the shrine during the summer months.

There is an onsen (or hot spring) nearby that is the only inhabited area near the temple.

Nobody in Kurama had heard of Usui or his system and westerners are not encouraged here. There are no relics to be found here either - it is just an ordinary working Buddhist temple. To me it was worth the effort to reach it. I feel certain that the dry area I saw was Usui's place of meditation.

I later spent some time with teachers of the Usui system that have a lineage to Usui other than Hayashi. One of them, a member of the Vortex system, believed that their "lineage" is Usui -> Eguchi -> Miyazuki -> Mitsui -> Takahashi. It was later discovered that Mieko Mitsui was also a student of Dr Barbara Ray the founder of The Radiance Technique.

I also was given further insight into the true nature of the Usui system before its Westernization. I was permitted to witness the structure and content of workshops from a teacher's perspective and was shown another method of attunement. I hope to return to Japan soon.

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Dave's visit to Tatsumi

Fuji-san from Lake Hakone

On my fourth visit to Japan I was making full use of my Railpass and took several trips along small branch lines that twist around the mountains and lakes. I stopped at one village for a break.

As I was eating, a young child approached me in order to practice his English. He told me that his family ran a home-based miso factory and offered to show me around. At this point several kids had materialized from nowhere. The manufacture of miso is something that interests me so I agreed.

At one point in the visit, one child slipped over and sustained a small scrape on the elbow. I almost instinctively placed my hands over the affected area and everybody stopped working and came over to where we were standing. One of the group told me that his family 'knew a similar method' and later took me along a country road to see his family. The great-grandfather of the child was Tatsumi.

Tatsumi gathered together his various children and grand-children and, through them, began by explaining that he had studied with Hayashi in Tokyo from 1927. He was a 'shihan' and had left the Tokyo clinic in 1931 at a time when Hayashi began to teach his own version of Usui's system.

I stayed in the area for a week. Some of this time was spent exploring the beautiful autumn scenery, some in Tatsumi's village. I was shown a pile of papers and was permitted to trace a set of symbols that had been given to Tatsumi by Hayashi during his training.

On my last day I was shown how Hayashi had done his attunements. This method made far more sense than the method I had been shown in Canada but was very similar to that shown by Onuki.

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Melissa's visit to Tatsumi

The moat of Odawara Castle

I felt drawn to visit Tatsumi in Japan after hearing all about him from Dave so I checked my frequent flyer points - just enough to make it!

After the hassle of Japanese immigration came the ride to Tokyo. The Narita Express took almost 2 hours and was packed! I stayed the night in a traditional ryokan and the next morning set off for the rail station again.

The Shinkansen (bullet train) was really great! It is like travelling by air. After the shinkansen I still had to take several local trains and a bus. It took over 6 hours to do this bit but the view more than made up for that.

I stayed in Tatsumi's cottage for the next three days. It consisted of a living room, kitchen, furo (bath house) and two sleeping rooms all on one level. The family was great and the food was amazing! The Japanese habit of concealing body language made it hard to get close but I enjoyed being there. For the remainder of my visit I stayed at various homes as the guests of the women which gave me a great insight into rural family life.

I was shown piles of papers during my stay and tried to pick up all the bits that Dave had either missed or needed more information on. Having so many 'interpreters' was somewhat tiring but it also gave me several slightly different translations of the same thing.

Although it was clear that the original aim of the system was for the self only, we did several "treatment sessions". It feels great working on a futon on the floor. In Japan they do not turn you over - you stay on your back the whole time. Dave does his Jin Shin acupressure in the same way (but then that also came from Japan). At one point I had a four year-old put her hands on me several times - you could feel the energy flow build up and then stop suddenly as the child became self-conscious.

It was time to leave! It was really hard to say goodbye to all these wonderful, caring people. I don't remember much of the trip back.

On October 3 I was awoken with a phone call from Japan to say that Tatsumi had passed away. I feel a great loss with his passing.

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An experience with some students of Usui - An excerpt from Melissa Rigall's Diary


I met two Tendai Buddhist nuns in Nara in 1996. One was named Yuri and was born in Meiji 28 (1896). She played koto and shakuhachi. The other was Tenon-in who likes to be known as Mariko-obaasan. She was born in Meiji 29 (1897) and has the most wrinkled smiling face that I have ever seen. Yuri died in 1997 leaving Mariko alone for the first time in 56 years.

Mariko's story:

Yuri and I met Usui-sama (O-Sensei) in 1920 on Hiei-zan and soon after that we began working with him in a subdivision in the northwest of Kyoto. Later in the year we were joined by three more Tendai sisters. Usui had been developing a system of spiritual practices that made use of traditional values in those days of change in our country.

On several occasions a very active man named Eguchi-sama appeared with bundles of cash. They spent hours together with Usui demonstrating his ideas while we had to make endless pots of tea and clean up.
In 1921 O-Sensei made a further trip to Hiei-zan and returned several days later with a sheet of yellow paper. He sent one of us to buy paper made from a kind of mulberry bush and he spent the rest of the day with ink and brush.

The next year on March 3 we made one final trip to Hiei-zan and set off for Tokyo on the Nakasendo. We made many stops on the way and often walked between the villages. We arrived in Tokyo at the end of March. In early April O-Sensei found a small room in Harajuku. Then came the earthquake of 1923. We all helped with the injured and the lost ones. Usui moved to a new room and at last had a separate place in which to sleep. Occasionally O-Sensei went out to work in the City.

Eguchi returned in 1923 with his own palm healing system that used parts of O-Sensei's work. It was almost a religion and part of this system was a ceremony that Eguchi had obtained from a friend named Nishida in which a form of blessing was offered to each doka. This displeased Usui a great deal but eventually Eguchi was permitted to come and teach at Usui's centre twice a week. Eguchi also had a small book printed which talked about healing methods and different techniques.

All five of us assisted Usui during work times. O-Sensei often forgot to go home and sometimes fell asleep on the floor of his workspace. We went back to our temple at night but were back bright and early the following day.

In 1925 a group of high ranked naval officers arrived to learn the system. In May a commander named Hayashi arrived. He was always smiling at me and seemed to listen to what Usui had to say. Then in November two navy rear admirals appeared who were always complaining and demanding more information. The boss-man was called Ushida (or Gyuda) and always wore his sword and boots. With them came 18 naval junior officers who often arrived in uniform but did not appear at all interested. But they were paying our bills.

The following year we ran out of money again. O-Sensei departed for Fukuyama and we never saw him alive again. We all five stayed together after Usui's death. Hayashi took over the school and in May we moved to another temple. It was so sad!

Quest in China

Usui's teachings are clearly of Chinese origin. Shen-Lissa had spent her last years in a mountain retreat in northern China where she had access to a large library of Taoist and Buddhist books and handwritten documents. In 2005 I relocated to southern China on a further quest for the sources of the Usui system.

It takes a long time to gain the trust of those who have information. One can not simply ask! It is necessary to explain your current knowledge and understanding on any particular topic. You must have an understanding of the culture and language of China or you will not be able to put any new information to good use. It is essential to be able to understand, read and write kanji. You must know how to use a complex Chinese dictionary.

I made contact with several Chan (Zen) and Tiantai (Tendai) temples, some of which were simply a room in the home of a monk. Others were elaborate temples that have been restored after the ravages of China's past. I was welcomed and often was given lodgings in the temple complex during my visit.

My informants often showed surprise that I had received such information via Japan. The Tiantai Buddhists observed that the Gainen of the Usui system were an "ingenious statement" of three Buddhist deities central to their beliefs. The Chan Buddhists verified that "symbol #3" was part of their normal temple activities but were just as applicable to other Buddhist schools.

Onuki-san had presented the Usui system to us in a totally different order to that of Hayashi students. It never made sense to us at the time but we adhered to the Hayshi arrangement. After my time with those monks the order of teaching of Onuki-san made perfect sense at last. Onuk-san had been taught by Eguchi-san who had presented the teachings under the supervision of Usui himself! The appearance of the senior naval officers at Usui's dojo had changed everything. Hayashi had kept the spirit and essence of the system yet had no option but to conform to the orders of the rear admirals and change the levels and the order of presentation. Hayashi finally left the recently formed Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai and began to present his own system free of control of the navy. His legacy is Western Reiki with its separation of "kata" and "symbol". Several teachers of Mochizuki-san's Vortex school in Tokyo (including a Gakkai member) had told me that the symbols were connected with Tendai Buddhism and even showed me images of the specific deities. My 8 years in China confirmed this.


Pad Thai, beans and rice!

Dave: March 2013:
I am currently studying Thai traditional medicine techniques with a group of monks in a remote village in northern Thailand. The villagers are very friendly and soon found me an "unused" house complete with a one inch thick (or should it be 'thin'?) futon, cooking equipment, fan, mop, brush and mozzie net. Did I mention the assorted chickens ranging from chicks to adults that hang around the house expecting to be fed? And the dogs... Perhaps I should write another book!
I had to replace the front door (the existing one was almost completely eaten by tiny termites) but otherwise the house is comfortable. At night many geckos roam the walls and roof, often chatting to each other with a loud "tak tak tak" call. Soon after arrival I spotted a giant 'Tokay' gecko sleeping behind the food cabinet in the kitchen. I named him "iClaudius" and left him to his own devices (which often includes him shouting "GECKO GECKO GECKO" at the top of his voice in the early hours of the morning).

iClaudius ... pad Thai??
There is a village shop but I prefer to travel the 25 km to the neareat town where there is a Tesco Express. The villagers give me bananas and I had been given a large bag of rice fresh from the threshing machine which I had to hand-sort to remove stones and chaff.
This took me back to working with Onuki-san in 1971. We had eaten and cooked together but as students we were expected to sort the beans (or whatever we were eating that evening). When we had "finished", Onuki-san would immediately spot several "foreign bodies" that we had "missed". We had to learn to work through the Gainen.... I think I managed to sort the rice correctly. Maybe I am a bit closer to Usui-no-michi than I was way back in Morocco.

This page Copyright (C) 1971 - 2005, Dave King and Melissa Rigall; Copyright (C) 2006 - 2016, Dave King.
last updated 30/11/2016 05:36:07 PST

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