Kongo Gumi

Kongō Gumi

is a Japanese construction company and was the world's oldest continuously ongoing independent company, operating for over 1,400 years until it was absorbed as a subsidary of another larger construction company. Headquartered in Osaka. The family-owned construction company traced its origins to 578 when Prince Shotoku brought Kongō family members from Baekje to Japan to build the Buddhist Shitennō-ji, a temple that still stands. These temples even endured the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Over the centuries, Kongō Gumi participated in the construction of many famous buildings, including the 16th century Osaka Castle and Hōryū-ji in Nara.

A 10-foot 17th century scroll traces the 40 generations back to the company's start. As with many distinguished Japanese families, sons-in-law often joined the clan and took the Kongō family name. Thus, through the years, the line has continued through either a son or a daughter.

The company fell on hard times and went into liquidation in January 2006. Its assets were purchased by Takamatsu Corporation. Before its liquidation, it had over 100 employees and annual revenue of ¥7.5 billion ($70 million) in 2005; it had 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 Takamatsu. It should be noted that the Kongo family still continue to practice as carpenters.

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