Kongō Gumi

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, 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]

Kabushiki Gaisha Kongō Gumi
Native name
Kongō Gumi
TypeSubsidiary (since 2006)
Founded578; 1443 years ago (578)
FounderShigemitsu Kongō
ParentTakamatsu Construction Group (2006–present)
Kongō Yoshie, the 38th master carpenter of Kongō Gumi and employees


Headquartered in Osaka, Kongō Gumi was a family-owned construction company. It traced its origins to 578 CE, when Prince Shōtoku invited 3 Kudarans 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 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 and annual revenue of ¥7.5 billion (US$70 million) in 2005; 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]


  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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