Mari Okazaki is kind and gentle. She is a determined, hard-worker with an immense respect for history and tradition. As a young, Japanese woman, she learned the traditional art of the tea ceremony, flower arranging and calligraphy and eventually life’s circumstances led her to learn the Japanese healing art of Reiki.
Mari was born in Montreal while her father worked for the Mitsubishi Corporation in Canada. At the age of 2, the family moved back to the Japanese port city of Yokohama. Two years later, Mari’s father died. “My father had a fever and had to go to the hospital. He was given penicillin but he must have had an allergy to it which he didn’t know. His doctor also didn’t know about it and he ended up dying,” she said. After her father’s death, her mother decided to move to Nagasaki. “We lived with four generations in the house,” she smiled gently. Her mother, who had worked as a hospital nutritionist before she was married, began working as a cook at a private, university dormitory as a means to support her family.
From an early age, Mari learned the importance of self discipline and when she was just five, she began playing the piano. By the time that she entered high school until two years after university, she trained and competed in gymnastics. “I competed in what would be equivalent to our provincials here. I enjoyed the discipline. I had to be dedicated and focused to reach for the beauty of the body. That’s what I enjoyed most about gymnastics,” she explained.
She attended Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education and received a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education. She came to Chilliwack to teach gymnastics on a one-year internship but never left. “I met my husband and now we have three children. My one year has turned into 15 years,” she said.
After Mari’s father’s passed away, her mother made a point to teach her children the importance of eating well, laughing a lot and looking after oneself so as not to rely on the medical system. “It isn’t that we were against doctors but rather we must learn to take responsibility for ourselves and our health.” Mari has always had a deep interest in the human body and mind, body connection and spirituality and this, combined with the untimely deaths of both her father and mother, led her to embark on a journey towards health and wellness.
When her second child was three months old, she was diagnosed with a severe form of eczema and Mari began looking for a treatment method that would alleviate her condition. “I was encouraged to study Reiki as a means to treat my daughter. The more I researched it, the more I got excited to learn. It did help my daughter. I started doing Reiki for 20 – 30 minutes every night and in 3 months, I noticed an improvement. Her condition continued to heal and it has never come back,” she said. Today, Mari works as a registered practitioner with the Canadian Reiki Association. “When I came to Canada in 1999, my goal was to become a bridge between Canada and Japan in some way. Now, I realize that I am achieving my goal by teaching Reiki, the Japanese method of healing technique, in Canada. Under the guidance of Mr. Yamaguchi and my own dedication to practice and teach Reiki, I became the world’s 11th Dai Shihan (master teacher) in 2013.”
While Mari does miss Japan, she now calls Chilliwack her home. She still enjoys playing the piano and doing yoga and considers her vocation a blessing in her life. “I enjoy every moment of it,” she smiled.