When it comes to having a proud corporate history, no company can outdo Japan’s Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd. Established in 578 AD, it is the oldest, continually operating company in the world.
Kongo Gumi is a construction company that got its start 1,441 years ago. The company’s website records the beginnings of the company:
Under the command of Prince Shotoku, three craftsmen were invited to Japan from Baekje, the sea. One of these is Kongo Shigemitsu, the first of the Kongo Group. The craftsmen were involved in the construction of Shitennoji, Japan’s first official temple. Shigemitsu remains in this area after Shitennoji once completed, and continues to protect the temple.
With headquarters in Osaka, Japan, Kongo Gumi specializes in the construction of temples. Its name is connected with many of Japan’s most famous structures, including the 16th-century Osaka Castle and Kairaku-en garden. Today, the company boasts in its ability to combine traditional style with modern design principles. Examples of Kongo Gumi’s work can be seen on its website.
What began as a family business over 14 centuries ago, continued to be passed down from generation to generation. Masakazu Kongō, the 50th Kongō to lead the company, oversaw the sale of the business in January 2006, to Takamatsu Construction Group. It continues to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary. At the time of the sale, Kongō Gumi employed over 100 individuals and had an annual budget of approximately $70 million.
Read more fun facts about Japan.