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Mount Kurama

Mt Kurama or Kurama-yama, is located north of Kyoto, Japan. It is where the legend of Mikao Usui began in March 1922 and is the birthplace of Reiki Ryoho (Reiki healing method or art). I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Mt Kurama in April 2023 for the first time with a Reiki History Tour organised by Justin B Stein, an eminent Reiki Researcher. On the second day, Hyakuten Inamoto, the founder of Komyo ReikiDo, joined the Reiki History Tour group to meet with some Komyo ReikiDo Shihans (teachers) who were in Japan for the first time since the pandemic. It was a special time with my teacher and  Komyo ReikiDo colleagues from Italy, Canada and the USA.


The energy of the mountain as well as the energy in and around the various shrines and temples, was evident and the sacredness of this place was felt everywhere. The whole of Mt Kurama is a known power spot and on the mountain, there are two more specific power spots. One is in front of the main temple, Kurama-dera and the other is near Okunoin where Mao-son came to earth 6.5 million years ago. Mt. Kurama is a mecca for spiritual practitioners, not just for Reiki practitioners.  While I was there, conch shells were sounding in the distance. Yamabushi, followers of Shugendo, were sounding their conch shells for purification practice. 

Mountains in Japan have been the chosen place for many Japanese spiritual practitioners for centuries and these practitioners were not necessarily affiliated with the specific Shinto and/or Buddhist sects that a particular mountain was associated with.  That is, anyone can access mountains to meditate or to practice spiritual techniques. Mt. Kurama is no different. Mikao Usui was a lay Buddhist (not a monk) of the Jodo Shu (Pure Land) Buddhist sect. We still do not know why he went to this particular mountain, what his practices were or the exact location of his austere practices for 21 days. Legend says he was near the Osugi Gongen Shrine where he fasted, meditated and attained Satori (or in his words received 'Great Reiki'). There are plenty of unsubstantiated stories that have been added over the years but in actuality, details have never been uncovered and remain unknown to this day. We do know that he experienced ‘Great Reiki’ and that Reiki has now spread across the world.


A little background on Mt. Kurama

While Kurama-yama was under the Tendai Sect for 12 centuries, Kurama-dera (Kurama Temple) was founded in 770 by Gantei, a disciple of Ganjin who was the founder Toshodai Temple (Toshodai-ji) in Nara.  Ganjin (Chinese: Chien-chen) was a Buddhist monk who was born in China and came to Japan in 753. He founded the Ritsu (or Risshu) sect. Gantei as legend goes, was led by a white horse to Kurama-yama. Kurama means horse saddle, possibly named because the summit of the mountain resembles the shape of a horse saddle. Gantei built the first temple for Bishamonten, a deity that guards the north of the city. 


Around 850, Kurama-yama became affiliated with Tendai Buddhism, according to Jessica Miller (author of Reiki’s Birthplace, A Guide to Kurama Mountain), and has remained so for many centuries.


Kurama Kokyu sect took over Kurama-yama in 1949 and is the current custodian. Kurama Kokyu sect worships Sonten. Sonten is the trinity of the deities, Bishamonten, Mao-son and Senju Kannon. The three deities together represent the great spirit of the universe or All that Is.

Bishamonten represents the Light of the Sun.

Mao-son represents the Power of the Earth.

Senju Kannon represents the Love of the Moon.

There are many legends associated with Mt Kurama which are too numerous to mention here (some legends vary depending on the site). The many buildings and structures were built over many centuries. Rice straw rope (Shimenawa) and white paper (Shide) in front of various Shrines and around Kami, indicate deities of legend and of the natural world. Shrines relate to Shinto places of worship whereas temples relate to Buddhism. There are a number of places to purify oneself with water and Torii gates to pass through. If you have mobility issues, this is not a place to visit because of the many stairs and pathways to the summit. While there is a cable car that takes you part way up the mountain, there is still quite a distance to get to the top with many stairs to climb. For those who are reasonably mobile, there is much to see and experience here. For those who are energetically sensitive, this is a place that you will not forget easily.


For me, the energy of this wonderful place has cemented its place in my heart and soul. It feels like my Reiki practice has more meaning and is more complete than before. I would highly recommend that every Reiki student, practitioner or teacher visit Mt. Kurama at least once. An understanding of Reiki Ryoho may be experienced through diligent practice, but there is another dimension of understanding when practising on the summit of this mountain in Japan. 

Mt. Kurama is a place that I will visit again and again.

Sally Wain

Komyo ReikiDo Melbourne April 2023

Kurama-yama entrance gate

Mt. Kurama entrance gate

Statue of Kannon at the entrance of Mt. Kurama

The statue of Kannon just beyond the entrance.

Stepks and Kami tree

Some of the many steps on Mt Kurama. Here you will see sacred Kami trees as indicated by the Shimenawa and Shide.

Mt Kurama steps

And more steps.


Kurama-dera, the main temple on Mt Kurama with a power spot in front. This is around two-thirds of the way up Mt Kurama.

The view from Kurama-dera near the top of Mt. Kurama.

The view from Kurama-dera.

Pathway to the summit of Mt Kurama

The pathway to the summit of Mt. Kurama behind Kurama-dera.

Temple bell behind Kurama-dera

The temple bell above Kurama-dera. Visitors may ring the bell once.

The  deep sound carries across the mountain.

Tree canopy of the cedar trees on Mt. Kurama
Cedar tree roots at the top of Mt. Kurama.
Sally Wain with cedars and light at the summit of Mt. Kurama.

At the top of Mt. Kurama are the famous cedars and their exposed tree roots. Here is the place where it is said that Mikao Usui stubbed his toe on one of these tree roots, accidentally found that he had Reiki in his hands and healed his toe.

I like the light flares in the photo of me in the cedar grove. I have seen a photo of this area before and I knew that I would be there someday.

Osugi Gongen Temple pre 2018

Osugi Gongen Shrine in 2017. Not far from here, is where Mikao Usui meditated and attained Satori in March 1922.

Photo by courtesy of Viktoria Romanova, Komyo ReikiDo Ukraine (2017).

Osugi Gongen , the incarnation of Mao-son on Mt. Kurama.

The massive cedar tree behind the temple, was damaged in a typhoon in 1950*. Osugi Gongen was considered the incarnation of Mao-son.

*Reiki's Birthplace, a Guide to Kurama mountain by Jessica Miller.

Photo by courtesy of Viktoria Romanove, Komyo ReikiDo Ukraine (2017).

The site of Osugi Gongen temple in 2023

In 2018, a typhoon destroyed the Osugi Gongen Shrine. The Shrine has not been rebuilt. This photo was taken in April 2023.

Osugi Gongen in 2023.

Many trees were knocked down or greatly damaged in 2018. Osugi Gongen now lies on the ground, rapidly decaying. It is still regarded as Kami. Photo taken in April 2023.

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