Kongō Gumi

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Kabushiki Gaisha Kongō Gumi
Native name
Kongō Gumi
TypeSubsidiary (since 2006)
Founded578; 1444 years ago (578)
FounderShigemitsu Kongō
ParentTakamatsu Construction Group (2006–present)
Kongō Yoshie, the 38th master carpenter of Kongō Gumi and employees

Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd. (株式会社金剛組, Kabushiki Gaisha Kongō Gumi) is a Japanese construction company. A long-established Japanese business (shinise), it was the world's oldest continuously ongoing independent company and is currently the oldest known extant company overall, operating for over 1,400 years. In January 2006, after falling on difficult times, it became a subsidiary of the Takamatsu Construction Group.[1][2] The Teikoku Databank and Tokyo Shoko Research acknowledge Kongō Gumi as the Japanese company with the longest history.[3]


Headquartered in Osaka, Kongō Gumi was a family-owned construction company. It traced its origins to 578 CE, when Prince Shōtoku invited three craftsmen from Baekje (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) to Japan to build the Buddhist temple Shitennō-ji.[3] The commission of Shitennō-ji was part of a massive national project led by Prince Shōtoku, who was devoted to Buddhism,[3] an unpopular religion at the time; thus, the carpenters brought knowledge to build Buddhist temples and lead the construction. A family member of Kongō Gumi decided to start his own business, which became Kongō Gumi in 578 CE.[3] Over the centuries, Kongō Gumi participated in the construction of many famous buildings, including the 16th century Osaka Castle.

A 3-metre (9.8 ft)-long 17th century scroll traces the 40 generations back to the company's start. It has continued operation through the founder's descendants.[4] The practice of sons-in-law taking the family name when they joined the family firm contributed to the Kongō Gumi's long existence.[4] As with many distinguished Japanese families, sons-in-law often joined the clan and took the Kongō family name.[4] This allowed the company to continue with the same name when there were no sons in a generation.[4] Thus, through the years, the line has continued through either a son or a daughter. Another factor for the company's longevity is the Buddhist temple construction business, which has been a reliable mainstay due to millions of Buddhist adherents.[4]

The company fell on hard times and went into liquidation in January 2006, and was purchased by the Takamatsu Construction Group.[4] Before its liquidation, it had as few as 100 employees. In 2005 it had annual revenue of ¥7.5 billion (US$70 million), and it still specialized in building Buddhist temples. The last president was Masakazu Kongō, the 40th Kongō to lead the firm. As of December 2006, Kongō Gumi continues to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Takamatsu Construction Group.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (in Japanese) Announcement of business transfer from Kongō Gumi Takamatsu Corporation IR Topics, 14 December 2005.
  2. ^ "End of the Road for World's Oldest Firm" Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition), 15 December 2005.
  3. ^ a b c d e Yasuhiko Nakazawa (December 31, 2020). "Japan's oldest company defies time with merit-based succession". Nikkei. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business". Bloomberg. April 17, 2007. Archived from the original on November 20, 2020.

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