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Oldest Japanese Companies and Oldest Companies in the World

| Products & Services | 04/14/2014

Kongo Gumi

Top 10 Japanese companies over 800 years old
Date: Aug 17, 2013
Source: Preston Phro

As you’re probably aware, Japan has quite the lengthy history, stretching back thousands of years. And, as with any civilization, ancient Japan had need of commerce, which lead to the establishment of some of the oldest companies in the world.

Today, we bring you a list of our 10 favorite ancient Japanese companies. From sake to mountain-side inns to Buddhist temple construction companies, there’s something here for everyone!

Obviously, when compiling a list of companies that have existed for longer than many nations, it can be a bit difficult tracking down concrete details. While it may seem counter-intuitive, new details are likely to emerge at any time. In fact, one business on this list, Hotel Keiunkan, suddenly jumped up to being the second oldest company in the world in 2011, after providing the Guiness Book of World Records with new proof.

Additionally, Japan easily dominates the list of oldest companies in the world–taking the top five spots. It may be because of the relative stability and lack of invaders throughout much of the country’s history that so many businesses have lasted so long, though it’s hard to say for sure.

Alright, enough chit-chat, here’s our list of the top ten old companies in Japan!

  1. Hotel Sakan (1184)
    Hotel Sakan comes in at number 10 on our list since we’re not exactly sure when it was founded. Some sources claim that the inn is over 1,000 years old, while other sources suggest that it wasn’t founded until 1184. Regardless of its exact age, this is a gorgeous hotel and onsen (hot spring).

  2. Sudo Honke (1141)
    The oldest sake brewer in Japan, this company is located in Niigata Prefecture and has been in operation for over 850 years. Their website proudly proclaims that they have been using the same well for 55 generations, crediting the fresh, clean water for their successful sake.

  3. Shumiya Shinbutsuguten Co. (1024)
    This Yamanashi Prefecture company was founded in 1024–that’s well before the Norman invasion of England! They produce goods for home Buddhist altars, like the miniature shrine, in addition to clothing for monks.

  4. Ichimonjiya Wasuke (1000)
    Japan’s oldest confectionery, Ichimojiya Wasuke is usually called by its abbreviated name, Ichiwa, which is far easier to remember! The store, located next to the east gate of Imamiya Shrine in Kyoto, specializes in aburi mochi, or warm sticky rice cakes.

  5. Nakamura Shaji (970)
    A construction company based in Aichi, Nakamura Shaji specializes in building both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. We wonder if they ever get confused…. The company was founded in 970 and boasts of over a thousand years of accumulated technical skills including wood working and carving.

  6. Tanaka Iga (885)
    Based in Kyoto, this company was established around 888 (or 885, depending on who you ask) and has been producing high quality Buddhist goods for well over 1,125 years. The company uses its collectively amassed skills and techniques to produce the stunning goods.

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List of oldest companies in the world
According to a report published by the Bank of Korea on May 14, 2008 investigating 41 countries, there were 5,586 companies older than 200 years. From these 3,146 are located in Japan, 837 in Germany, 222 in the Netherlands and 196 in France. 89.4% of the companies with more than 100 years of history are businesses employing fewer than 300 people. A nationwide Japanese survey counted more than 21,000 companies older than 100 years as from September 30, 2009.

This list of the oldest companies includes brands and companies, excluding associations and educational, government, or religious organisations. To be listed, a brand or company name must remain, either in whole or in part, since inception.

Year Company Country Category
578 Kongo Gumi Japan Construction
705 Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan Japan Hotel
717 Koman Japan Hotel
718 Hoshi Ryokan Japan Hotel
771 Genda Shigyo Japan Paper bags
803 Stiftskeller St. Peter Austria Restaurant
862 Staffelter Hof Germany Wine
885 Tanaka-Iga Japan Religious Goods
900 Sean’s Bar Ireland Pub
953 The Bingley Arms United Kingdom Pub

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Check it our listed old companies here ».

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