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Interview with Reiki Master Jotaro Kashihara (Part 1)

Posted in Personal Experiences, and Reiki Blog

Jotaro KashiharaQ. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you started on your Reiki journey?

My Reiki story starts in 1992 after a good friend was struck by a car driven by a drunk driver while riding his mountain bike.  He suffered very severe head injuries and he was unable to do much of what he could before the accident.  Once he was released from the hospital, his mother would take him to Reiki treatment sessions as a part of his recovery process.  He made an excellent recovery and to this day both he and his mother credit Reiki for this.  That was the first time I heard about Reiki.

As a result of his successful recovery, when I was diagnosed with a severe case of tendonitis coupled with carpal tunnel syndrome in 1994 they both quickly suggested I try Reiki to help.  Admittedly, I was skeptical.  I decided to go the conventional medical route first.  For two years I underwent injection therapy for the carpal tunnel and a physical therapy program for the tendonitis.  The condition tendonitis improved greatly, but the carpal tunnel got worse and worse.  It was suggested by my doctor that I have surgery done to try and relieve the issues.   After hearing that the procedure would result in weakening my hands I was hesitant to go through with it.  I have studied Japanese martial arts since I was a child and I believed that this surgery would ruin my favorite hobby.  This along with the high price of the operation and my lack of medical insurance, made me want to find alternatives that could help.  I told the doctor that I needed to think about it.

I sought the advice of all my friends.  A few suggested again that I try Reiki since it had done so much for our other friend.  I was still hesitant to try it.  I placed it in the too “New Age” for me category and equated it with the television or tent revival healings that I believe are fraudulent.  After many months of milling this over, I decided that the surgery was going to be my best option.  I called the doctor and set-up an appointment to have it done in three months, when I could take time off from work.  But that was not to be the end of it.

My friends continued to press for me to try it.  They recruited my girlfriend to persuade me.  And then I would start to notice things about Reiki almost everywhere I went.  I would walk through the local bookseller and find a Reiki book where it should not be, or I’d end up in that section of the store somehow.  At the local market I would see flyers hung by the local Reiki Master advertising classes and treatments.  I talked about all of this with another skeptical friend.  He suggested that maybe there was a reason I was noticing all of this suddenly.  He recommended that I just give it a try.  “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”, he said.  I went home and discussed it again with my girlfriend.  She too said I should just try it.  I returned to the market to retrieve the local Master’s flyer and gave him a call.  He told me that he would see me for what he called a “free mini-treatment” the next day.  We scheduled a time and I hung up the phone.

The next day I went to his home and after a brief explanation on what Reiki is, I hopped onto the treatment table and we got started.  Receiving Reiki for the first time was a unique experience in my life.  Almost immediately, I was aware of incredible warmth starting at my head – where the Reiki Master put his hands – all the way down my legs.  As the treatment progressed, I began to notice a swirling of energy inside my body.  After about thirty minutes, the Master took his hands off of me and said, “We’re finished.  That’s the mini-treatment”.  He then asked me about my thoughts on Reiki and how the treatment was for me.  I told him what I felt during the treatment.  We then said our goodbyes with him asking me to call him if I needed anything or had any questions.  I agreed to do so.

The walk home was troublesome.  Before arriving for the treatment I had a very slight headache, now since getting the treatment, my head felt as if it would split open.  I went home as quickly as possible and laid down on my girlfriends couch wondering what I had done to myself.

The next morning I woke up and right away noticed that the headache was gone.  I was very grateful of this.  Over breakfast, my girlfriend asked me some questions about the treatment and I noticed that the numbness in my hands was gone and the pain seemed a lot less.  My girlfriend was happy and teased me about not trying Reiki sooner.  I began to think about if this was a “mini-treatment”, what would a “full-treatment” do?  I had a full week, so I was not able to call the Reiki Master again for a while.  Over the next few days I realized that the pain continued to lessen a little more.

Once I did call him he said that he was happy to hear from me and asked if I had any change in my hands.  I told him about the headache, falling asleep on the couch and waking up with noticeably less pain and no numbness.  He was happy and told me that sometimes a condition will get worse before it can get better.  This was his opinion of what happened with my headache.  I asked about getting another treatment, but maybe a full one this time.  He told me, “Sure.  We can do that.  Or, you can learn to do it yourself”.  I decided that I wanted to learn this.

A month later I was in his class learning Reiki 1.  I have been going almost non-stop since then.  A longer, more detailed version of my Reiki story is soon to be published on Reiki Zasshi, my Reiki article website at:

Q. How has Reiki affected your life?

Reiki teachings helped me become a more focused person.  Throughout my time working with Reiki, I found that certain things became more important to me while other things became less important.  Reiki practice has given me the clarity to understand what is important and what is not in my life. (Perhaps a statement about visiting and studying in Japan would be helpful, here or in another section)

Q. Who did you train with, and how long have your been teaching?

I studied with several teachers, most of whom are not really all that well known.  My Reiki training started in November of 1997 with that same Reiki Master who helped me.  His name was Cory Nelson Rodgers and he was a member of the Reiki Alliance.  A little over a year later, I took Reiki 2.  In 1999 I met a Reiki Master who suggested I find a teacher for Master level and introduced me to several.  I did not really feel a connection with any of them so I asked if she would teach me.  She agreed, with one condition, I had to retake her lineage Reiki 1 and 2 so that her lineage could remain “pure”.  I stayed at her home in Madison, Wisconsin for two weeks and in January of 2000 I became a Reiki Master.  After that I studied with more teachers to learn as much as I could about Reiki.  I had some good teachers, some bad ones, and a few great.  I studied to master level in three lineages of Western Reiki.  I also took several level one and some level two classes with a few other teachers.

I taught my first Western style Reiki class in early 2001.

In 1998 I started to research Reiki History.   I recruited family and friends in Japan who I asked to send me anything that they could find about Reiki.  I also studied the work of Frank Arjava Petter, Hiroshi Doi, and the Yamaguchi family which made me want to study a more traditional Reiki style.

In 2002 I studied to Teacher level with a lady named Kathrine Kent.  She taught a traditional style of Usui Reiki Ryoho mixed with some Western Reiki.  In February of 2009 I took the Shoden (Reiki 1) course in the lineage of The International House of Reiki, Okuden (Reiki 2) in November of 2009.  In July of 2010 I studied Shinpiden (Reiki 3) with Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki.  I also studied Shoden (Reiki 1) with a Jikiden Reiki teacher in October of 2011.

My lifelong study of Japanese martial arts and my family background has drawn me to a more traditional perspective in my Reiki practice.  I believe that approaching the practice with a mindset that acknowledges the cultural and historical influences that were present when Usui Sensei founded his system, we can then see the teachings in a more proper light.

Q. How would you explain Reiki – is it a spiritual practice, energy healing or something else?

Well, I would have to say it is all of those things.  It really does depend on the approach each practitioner takes to their practice.  For me personally, it is my spiritual practice, but that practice brings with it improved health and overall wellness.  The teachings found within the system of Reiki have a significant influence in all areas of my life.

I feel that one of the most important things we need to be mindful of in practice is balance.  There are some practitioners that only focus on the healing aspects in the system of Reiki.  There are others that over focus on the spiritual aspects.  Reiki is about balancing our minds, our bodies and our lives.

Q. What makes Reiki different from other forms of energy healing (like Qi Kung / TT / Pranic Healing)?

I would have to say that Reiki is unique in regard to its origins, its transmission, and its simplicity.  One of the greatest things about the system of Reiki is that a student can use it immediately after their first day of class and the practitioner does not ever lose their ability to use Reiki.  Even if they fail to practice for a period of time they still have it.  With a little effort, they can regain full usage again.

Q. What is the most misunderstood thing about Reiki in your opinion?

This answer has to be two parts.  There are different misunderstandings to both Reiki practitioners, as well as to non-practitioners.

To practitioners I would have to say that its history and development is greatly misunderstood.  A quick internet search will show hugely differing sets of beliefs on the origins and development of the system of Reiki.  Many practitioners have inserted their own personal beliefs into the history of Reiki; some have even completely rewritten the history.  Since the late 1990s, there has been a lot of information coming out of Japan regarding Usui Sensei and the early days of Reiki.  Most of the work from Petter, Doi, Yamaguchi and Inamoto can and have been verified through multiple sources.   While there are still some unknown details of Usui Sensei’s life, I personally feel that there is no need to hold onto false things and certainly no need to be making things up anymore.

To non-practitioners I believe that some of the misconceptions stem from a lack of consistent information on what Reiki is and what it can do for them.  They often see Reiki as mysterious or even a bit woo-woo.  Many do not take the practice seriously.  Because of this, many refuse to even try Reiki.


Jotaro Kashihara is the founder of the Classical Reiki Institute. Located in Coralville Iowa, the Classical Reiki Institute offers Reiki treatment sessions and Reiki training courses in traditional Japanese Reiki.
 (319) 333-5610