Shugendo and Reiki

I was recently asked by a Reiki specialist to write something on Shugendo for his blog.  After looking into hagiographical elements of the founder of Reiki, Usui Mikao 臼井甕男 (1865–1926), I wrote up this short essay on similarities between the two:

Echoes in the Mountains:  Locating Usui’s Experience in the History of Japanese Mountain Asceticism

It was fun to find that, like many of the “new religions” in Japan’s last few centuries, Reiki (while not considered a religion) takes much from the rich history of mountain asceticism in Japan.


[A gongen shrine on Mt. Kurama 鞍馬山, where Usui is said to have received his Reiki energy.]

About calebscarter

I specialize in Japanese religions within the broader context of Buddhism and East Asian cultures. Within these fields, I focus especially on Shugendō, a mountain-based tradition in Japan developed largely from esoteric, Zen and Pure Land Buddhism with additional influences from Chinese religions and local spirit worship (later identified as Shintō). I approach these subjects from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws on literary, economic, political, social and intellectual history. I received my Masters (2008) and PhD (2014), both in Buddhist Studies from UCLA, with a BA (2000) in Philosophy from Colorado College. I currently teach full-time for the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. Outside of research and teaching, I play a three-stringed instrument from Okinawa called the sanshin and spend time with my family at nearby playgrounds and campgrounds. I also love the outdoors, especially climbing in the mountains—an orientation that has in many ways shaped my current intellectual path. View all posts by calebscarter

2 responses to “Shugendo and Reiki

  • Frans Stiene

    Thanks for writing this article.
    Plus I love the photo of the gongen shrine on Mt Kurama

  • Ngan Than

    I also came to Mount Kurama on an cold late afternoon on the spur of the moment because I had a presentation about Kyoto and I thought I would give the late trip a shot. I did not know anything about this mountain, I just wanted to go somewhere far. It was late and no body was there, and what a rare experience, I had not felt such peaceful and relaxed for such a long time…When I caught the train back to Kyoto I felt like my mind was so refreshed and I guess I received the energy from the mountain as said. After coming across this blog or yours I realized that I really underestimated all the hidden beauty of the place I am staying. Definitely I would love to learn more about Japanese Shugendoo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: