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Reiki Pronunciation and Meaning in English and Japanese

I’ve written a lot of articles on this site about Reiki, the Japanese art of gentle touch healing energy flow, but I realize I haven’t yet answered the question: what is the correct pronunciation of “Reiki?” As an experienced Reiki practitioner, in addition to being an English teacher and artist, I’m glad to answer this query.

How to Pronounce Reiki

How do you pronounce “Reiki?” In English, the correct Reiki pronunciation is: “RAY-kee” or “RAY-key.” To remember how to say it, imagine a RAY of light turning into a KEY that unlocks a door to relaxation, restorative release, and revitalization! That’s Reiki healing touch for you.

Reiki pronunciation
How to remember “Reiki” pronunciation.

Reiki Pronunciation in Japanese vs. English

Since Reiki’s origins as a healing art come from Japan, this begs the question: what is the “Reiki” pronunciation in Japanese? The International House of Reiki explains that in Japanese, the word is pronounced closer to “LAY-key” (with an “L” instead of an “R”), but in fact the sound is somewhere between an “L” and “R,” because the two languages have different sound systems, and don’t have exact matches.

According to, the reason we spell and pronounce “Reiki” with an “R” instead of “Leiki” with an “L” is because in the 1540s, the Portuguese began making the first dictionaries of Japanese words translated into a Western alphabet in order to facilitate trading, and in Portuguese, the “R” sounds more like the Japanese L/R combination — meaning the dictionary-makers chose to use the letter “R” to represent the sound, even though English speakers might not have made that choice.

Correct Reiki Spelling

I would actually add Reiki to my English teacher-style list of hard words to spell, given the zillions of different ways I’ve seen it spelled INCORRECTLY. Wrong “Reiki” spellings include: rekie, rakie, raki, rakey, raykey, raykie, raiki, raikie, rayki, reikey, raikey, reyqi, rayqui, and many more.

The correct spelling of “Reiki” in English, however, is R-E-I-K-I. One way to remember this is that “Rei” means “King” in Spanish, and “Ki” sounds like “Qi,” which means universal life force energy.

Reiki Name Meaning

Now that we’ve learned to pronounce “Reiki” in English and Japanese, let’s back up a moment and learn what the actual word or name “Reiki” means. The “Reiki” name meaning translates approximately from the Japanese as: “Universal life force energy.”

This translation matches with the art of Reiki, which is the practice of using gentle touch or focused intention to help energy flow to heal and relax the human body by clearing chakras — usually in person (as with the Cho Ku Rei Reiki symbol), but sometimes from afar through distance Reiki.

Reiki Pronunciation, in Sum

Now you know how to pronounce Reiki, as well as what the word or name means. I may be biased as a Reiki practitioner, but perhaps the next step would be trying out the wonderful experience of Reiki meditation in person for yourself! Curious to learn more? Check out my new articles on Reiki Principles, and on how many Reiki sessions are needed.