Having survived two atomic bombs, this 1,443-year-old company may be the oldest in the world
A company that survived two atomic bombs has been in business for more than 14 centuries. A Japanese family-owned construction company called “Kongo Gumi” has been in business for at least 1,443 years.
A temple building company
Known for building temples, the company was founded by a Korean builder named Shigemitsu Kongo. Kongo was invited by Prince Shōtoku to build a Buddhist temple in Japan.
Shitennō-ji Temple, which still stands tall in Osaka, Japan, was the start of the Kongo family business. Since then, more than 40 generations have run the construction company. The names of members of the Kongo family were notably listed in a 17th century parchment.
According to Interesting Engineering, the company survived because religion never goes out of fashion. About 80 percent of the company’s revenue is generated by Buddhist temples.
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The company is perhaps the oldest and most resilient in the world, having survived multiple natural disasters, political crises and two nuclear bombs that rocked Japan during World War II.
But now the business is not in the hands of the Kongo family. Due to a collapse in the 1980s, the company became a subsidiary of the Takamatsu Construction Group.
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In the 1980s, the Bank of Japan kept interest rates extremely low, which created a sort of asset bubble. With this, companies took on more debt than they could ever repay. When the bubble burst, all businesses had to do was get into debt. And this is how Kongo Guni’s centuries-old legacy has been effectively buried.
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Emir, C. (2021, November 26). The oldest company in the world has been in operation for more than 14 centuries. Interesting engineering.