Japan Data

Some of Japan’s Longstanding Companies Have Been in Business for Centuries


A survey conducted by a private research firm shows that 3,343 businesses in Japan have a history that dates back 150 years or more. Prevalent among these firms are sake brewers, traditional inns, and kimono and fabric retailers.

More than 3,000 Japanese companies still in operation today were established prior to the end of the Edo period in 1868. A survey conducted by Teikoku Databank found that there were 3,343 such enterprises as of May 2016, including many sake brewers, traditional inns, and kimono and fabric retailers. By prefecture, Kyoto has the most longstanding businesses, at 312, followed by 283 in Tokyo, 165 in Aichi, 145 in Osaka, and 138 in Niigata.

There are 28,972 businesses with histories that stretch back more than 100 years, to 1916 or earlier. Here again sake brewers are the most prevalent, followed by real estate companies and sake retailers. The same five prefectures that have the most businesses established prior to 1868 lead this category as well, although the order is not exactly the same.

Top-10 Prefectures for Number of Longstanding Companies

(Based on the 3,343 companies established up to 1867, the year prior to the Meiji Restoration.)

Rank Prefecture Number of longstanding companies
1 Kyoto 312
2 Tokyo 283
3 Aichi 165
4 Osaka 145
5 Niigata 138
6 Yamagata 128
7 Nagano 119
8 Hyōgo 109
9 Saitama 106
10 Shizuoka 105

Created by Nippon.com based on statistics from Teikoku Databank.

Founded Before the Edo Period

Classifying the 28,972 firms that have been around for at least a century reveals that the vast majority, or 88.5%, were established since the 1868 Meiji Restoration, while 11.0%, or 3,183 businesses, were established during the Edo period (1603–1868). Only 0.6%, or 160 businesses, date back to before the Edo period, and among them 41 have a history that exceeds 500 years.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Sake Brewery Kamotsuru in Hiroshima Prefecture, which was founded in 1918. © Jiji.)

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