Kongō Gumi: The Oldest Continuously Operating Business

Published 18 Sep 2023
Reference 6833
Region Asia
Length 9 page(s)
Language English

Founded in 578 AD, Kongo Gumi was a family-owned business until 2006, when the firm went into liquidation to pay its creditors. While its demise is briefly covered, the case study is focused on its longevity. A renowned builder of traditional temples, in a country where these are major tourist attractions, Kongo Gumi has left an indelible mark on Japanese culture and history. Many of the temples built by its carpenters are listed and some are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Teaching objectives

The case covers a variety of topics and themes for instructors from a wide range of disciplines, particularly those with an interest in family business. Kongo Gumi can trace its ownership back 40 generations and the reasons for its longevity are covered in detail. It will also be of interest to professors of Japanese history and culture. The temples built by Kongo Gumi are national treasures, and the case highlights one of Japan’s main assets: the contribution of longstanding family-owned businesses to the economy and social fabric.

  • Kongō Gumi
  • Family Business
  • Succession
  • Longevity
  • Buddhism
  • Buddhist Temple
  • Adult Adoption
  • Prince Shōtoku
  • Hōryū-ji
  • Nihon Shoki
  • Osaka Castle
  • Toshitaka Gumi
  • Shitennō-ji
  • Shinto shrine
  • Q32023