Why Japan is home to the world’s oldest businesses

There are so many 100-plus-year-old companies in Japan that there’s a word for them in Japanese: shinise. What is it about doing business in Japan that cultivates such an enduring legacy?

theceomagazine.com -- Nov 24

Shitennō-ji temple is one of Osaka’s most important Buddhist temples. Built in the sixth century during the rule of Prince Shotoku, it has stood firm as the high-rises of the modern-day city have towered above it.

Of course, the structure hasn’t survived more than a millennium without some tender loving care, with its most recent reconstruction taking place in 1963.

Visitors to the temple praise its serenity and space amid the hustle and bustle of Japan’s third-largest city. One nugget of information visitors may not take away from their visit, however, is that the firm that constructed the temple is also still in operation.

Founded in 578 with the Shitennō-ji temple as its first project, Kongō Gumi is widely considered the oldest company in the world, operational for a staggering 1445 years and counting.

What is equally as astonishing is that Kongō Gumi is not alone. The oldest hotel in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is also in Japan. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is an onsen (hot spring) hotel that opened in the Yamanashi Prefecture outside Tokyo in 705.

The oldest tea house in the world, Tsuen Tea, poured its first brew in Tokyo in 1160, and the oldest listed business on the Japanese stock exchange is Matsui Kensetsu, a construction firm that dates from 1586. ...continue reading