The Different Names of Mikao Usui

Frans StieneArticles, English Leave a Comment



In the time of Mikao Usui, it was very common for people to have different names. These might include birth names, artist/style names (goh), popular names, Buddhist names, and/or posthumous names (戒名kaimyo/imina).

Mikao Usui also had different names.

First of all, we know him as Mikao Usui 臼井甕男

His artist/style name (goh) is Akiho / Gyohan 暁帆

Mikao Usui’s posthumous (戒名kaimyo) name is: Reizan-in Shuyo Tenshin Koji 霊山院秀譽天心居士 

霊 – Rei as in Reiki

山 – Zan (as in mountain)

院 – In (a ranking/title of deceased)

秀 – Shu (preeminent)

譽 – Yo (given to one who has completed the Fivefold Transmission in Pure Land Sect)

天 心- Tenshin (zenith, divine will)

居 士- Koji (given to lay buddhists)

“I think his kaimyo(戒名)霊山院秀譽天心居士 is worthy of his [Mikao Usui’s] achievements. As you know, 霊山 means the sacred mountain, which is the mother of Reiki as well as Japanese Religion.” – Takeda Hakusai Ajari

It was also very common in Mikao Usui’s time to take on the family name and one’s father’s name after the father’s death. This is why it is said that Mikao Usui also was known by these names:

No-Tsunetane: (之)常胤

No-Uzaemon: (之)宇左衛門

Judith Rabinovitch, Professor Emerita of Japanese Language and Culture at the University of Montana explains: “Sometimes, even in modern times, in the case of old, traditional families, the eldest son (or the eldest surviving son) will take his father’s name upon the latter’s death. It would therefore not be exceptional for Mikao Usui to have used his own father’s name. Regarding the insertion of ‘No’ in front of the above names, Tsunetane and Uzaemon: as in Usui/Chiba no Uzaemon or Chiba no Tsunetane: in premodern times, but especially the court period, family names were written first, followed by the grammatical particle No (a sort of nominal linker and sometimes like an apostrophe “s” in English). Therefore, the great poet of the court was referred to as Fujiwara No Teika, rather than Fujiwara Teika in his day. (Teika “of” the Fujiwara family). This is not part of the name itself but rather a grammatical linkage between surname and the given name that followed. In modern times, this linkage no longer is made.”

As you can see, when doing research into Mikao Usui, we need to look at all the different names he was known by. Just as it is when practicing, when researching the system of Reiki, there always is something new to learn.

Thank you Hiromi Hayashi and Judith Rabinovitch for your help with this article.

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