Many books have been written about the history of Reiki and how it travelled from Japan to the west. I won’t try to reproduce that all here, but I do want to give you a little context about how the system of Reiki was developed.
Dr. Mikao Usui (Master Usui) lived from 1865 to 1926 in Japan. From most accounts he received his doctorate degree in Literature, though many of the details of his life have been muddled along the way. He was a Buddhist and studied a tantric Qigong method called the “Lightning Flash”, originally developed to achieve enlightenment, with physical healing as a by-product. Some accounts say he developed Reiki as a way to bring the powerful healing method to the masses. Many accounts tell a story of how he received the instructions on how to use Reiki and the symbols in a deep mediation at the base of a waterfall at Mt. Kurama.
However he came to know Reiki, Usui gave Reiki its name and created a system for teaching it and passing it down to others. He developed Reiki into a method of healing which is powerful, effective and non-invasive. He removed much of the religious aspects to the teachings so that there were no limitations on its use and benefit to all humankind. Reiki is not aligned with any political or religious organization and is open to all. Much like the Divine Energy that it accesses, Reiki is loving and accepting with no boundaries.
Since then, many styles of Reiki have been developed and the original 5 symbols have expanded to over 60. Reiki has spread throughout the world and is taught in many languages and cultures. Ultimately, though we can all trace back our Reiki lineage to Master Usui.