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Top 10 Oldest Businesses That Are Still in Operation

Imagine working in a company that has been in business for more than a thousand years. Companies start with a great vision and a mission, but when trials come in, some companies give in and disappear out of business a few years later. However, some companies have stood the test of time and proved to be the real deal in the business world. According to statistics, there are more than 5000 companies that have been operating for more than 200 years. Germany boasts of 837 oldest companies, the Netherlands with 222 and the remaining 196 are in France. Surprisingly, 56% (3146) of the total oldest companies are in Japan. The reason for this remarkable figure is attributed to Japan’s culture making a business a family affair. Below are the ten oldest businesses that are still operating today.

Kongō Gumi

Oldest Businesses Kongo Gumi

Being in operation for more than 1400 years, Kongō Gumi is one of the world’s oldest companies. It was founded in the year 578 by Shigemitsu Kongō. Kongō was a skilled carpenter who won the heart of Prince Shotoku, who was an avid Buddhist and a politician during the Asuka period under Suiko. Shigemitsu Kongō had been invited to construct the first Buddhist temple in Japan. Kongō, who was from the Korean peninsula together with two other co-workers, built the temple, which became a success. Following the success of the temple, Kongo decided to set up a construction company under his family name.

The leadership of the firm was passed down to competent family members. Kongō Gumi stood the test of time, including Japan’s economic crisis and the two world wars. Since its inception, Kongō Gumi is well-known for the construction of major temples in Japan, including the famous Osaka Castle constructed in 1583. In 2006, the 1,429-year-old firm was declared bankrupt, and in 2008 it was acquired by Takamatsu Limited. Kongo Gumi now operates under Takamatsu Limited.[1][2]

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is also another company that takes the crown when it comes to the oldest companies in the world. Onsen opened its doors in the year 705AD and is still in business today. This charming hotel was founded by Fujiwara Mahito, who was a son to Emperor Tenji’s assistant. It was during the reign of Keiun hence its name.

Strategically located on the floors of Akaishi Mountains, Keiunkan was and is still a favorite spot for people, including royal families and military personnel. For over 1,300 years, the firm has seen over 52 generations manage it. Nishiyama Onsen Kiunkan is ranked the world’s oldest hotel by the Guinness World Records.[3][4]

Sennen No Yu Koman

Oldest Businesses Sennen-no Yu Koman

Sennen No Yu Koman is also another oldest company and the second oldest hotel in the world dating back to year 717. Gonnokami Hiuke is the brains behind this hotel that holds the Japanese culture to its heart. Hiuke developed this hotel following a dream in which he dreamt of four gods who advised him to establish a settlement in the area to protect his family and generations. He went on to set up four temples to worship the four gods.

For more than a thousand years, the company continues to thrive at the same time preserving its traditions in which the inn was set.[5]

Hōshi Ryokan

Hōshi Ryokan

Located in Komatsu Japan, Hōshi Ryokan is another firm that has been in operation for more than 1,300 years. It was established in 718 AD and has overcome all the tribulations that could take it down like the Samurai era, the Ninja period, several rulers, and the great world wars. The story behind its establishment involves a monk named Taicho Daishi. In his dreams, Taicho saw one of their gods telling him about unearthed a unique hot spring in Awazu that had great healing powers.

He went as instructed by the gods, discovered the hot springs, and used it to heal the sick within the village. True to the gods, the water had great healing powers. Daishi decided to set up a spa where the sick could come for healing. He, however, delegated the spa construction duties to his follower named Garyo Hōshi who picked the idea and his the brains behind the modern-day oldest business. Over forty-six generations have run this firm since its inception.[6][7]

Genda Shigyō

Genda Shigyo

Genda Shigyō is also another oldest company in the world. This fascinating company opened its doors to the business world in 771 as a paper manufacturing firm during the Nara period that lasted between the year 710 and 794. During the Heian period in 794, the company moved its headquarters to Kyoto where it operates to date.

The first product produced by Genda Shigyō at the beginning was Mizuhiki. Mizuhiki is a product made by creatively twisting paper chords of different colors and used to wrap cards and gift boxes. The firm, however, diversified and introduced other products in their chain. Genda Shigyō, like the other oldest Japanese firms, holds their traditions close to its heart. Shigyō too is run by family members from one generation to the next.[8][9]

Stiftskeller St. Peter

Stiftskeller St. Peter

Stiftskeller St. Peter is the first oldest company located outside Japan. This firm, which was established in 803 has withstood all the economic challenges throughout the centuries to become the most notable hotel in the world! Stiftskeller started as a religious house with an inn to cater to travelers.

Located in Salzburg, Austria, Stiftskeller has been in the hospitality business for over a thousand years. Allegedly, over the centuries, the eatery has hosted notable figures in the society like Christopher Columbus, Johann Georg Faust, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.[10][11]

Staffelter Hof

Staffelter Hof

Staffelter Hof is another family run business that deserves a hat off for being in the wine business for centuries. It survived the stringent rule by Hitler, the allied invasions, and the two major world wars to become the stable company it is today, doing what it knows best – making fine wine. Located in Krov, Germany, this winery came into existence in the year 862 ranking on number seven as the oldest companies that operate to date. It first started as monastery run winery. The Carolingian dynasty that ruled in the year between 580 to 876 donated its lands to the monastery to help them generate income.

The religious community managed the winery until the introduction of the Napoleonic Code in 1804. In 1805, Peter Schneiders bought the land from the abbey for 1773 taler (the currency used during that time). Ever since 1805, the company has been passed down to seven generations. It is currently run by Jan Matthias Klein who succeeded his father, Gerd Klein in the year 2005. To add, the winery has a guest house which was introduced in 1960 and is managed by Hildegunde Klein, wife to Gerd Klein. The three major wine brands by Staffelter Hof are; Heraldic Wines, Signature Wines, and Wolf Wines.[12]

Monnaie De Paris

Oldest Businesses Monnaie De Paris

Monnaie De Paris is a mint institution responsible for the production of euro coins in France. It was established in the year 864 by Charles II who was famously known as Charles the Bald. Apparently, after the annunciation of Edict of pistres on June 25, 864, Charles the bald established ten minting firms to promote unity within the region including modern-day France. Over the centuries, Monnaie De Paris faced numerous challenges like competition from other coining firms that emerged. Legend has it that in 1689, twenty-two coining enterprises were in business and the number rose to twenty-seven in 1691.

However, new firms did not last long. They went out of business and by 1870, only Bordeaux, Paris, Strasbourg was operational. However, by the year 1878, the firms had gradually faced out except Monnaie De Paris. History has it that the firm changed locations from time to time and the oldest known workshop location is at Ile de la Cite. The coining firms were established close to the royal palace because minting’s primary role was to serve the crown. In 1769, Jacques-Denis Antoine was selected by Louis XV to develop a royal palace in Quai De Conte. On December 20, 1775, the project came to a completion, and the current location of Monnaie De Paris functioned. Over the years, demand for coins kept rising. Due to huge demand, Charles De Gaulle signed a report from the decentralization committee recommending that the manufacturing site be moved to another place, as Quai De Conte had been marked as a historical site. The firm was moved to Pessac and began work in 1973.[13][14]

Royal Mint

Royal Mint

Just like Monnaie De Paris in France, Royal Mint is also another oldest thriving manufacturing firm that has been in business for more than a thousand years. Royal operated in the year 886. Coining in Britain dates back to the second century. However, the production of coins ceased following the Roman invasion to the region. Years after that, Romans established a mint that produced Roman coins in the third century. The mint did not last long, and forty years later into its establishment, it closed its doors. The “no coin” period lasted for about two hundred years before its reopening in 650.

However, minting became more critical during the reign of Alfred the Great in the years between 871-889. Surprisingly, the number of mints went up and increased to seventy at the time of Ethelred II in 978-1016. Harsh economic times wiped the majority of the mints out of business. According to history, during the 13th century, minting was restricted to London and Canterbury. Mint mechanization began in the 17th century. However, challenges like disputes over the mint emerged, thus forcing the relocation of the Royal Mint from the Tower of London to Tower Hill in the 18th century. At Tower Hill, the mint went through rigorous development, including the installation of electricity to replace steam. The demand for coins from the mint increased, forcing to expand. To meet this demand, the government announced the relocation of the royal mint to Llantrisant in 1967. Work began, and the new mint opened its doors in 1975.[15]

Sean’s Bar

Oldest bar Sean’s Bar

If you think your bar is the oldest think again because there is one Bar in Ireland that beats all. Sean’s Bar boast of being the oldest Bar in the world dating back to 900 AD. The bar came into existence when a fellow called Luain Mac decided to set up an inn to serve traders who were traveling through Shannon. Mac also worked as a guide to the travelers earning him fame and reputation. With time the region grew and was named Athlon from Mac’s name Ath Luain.

In 1129, King Turlough O’Connor built his castle to protect the rapidly growing area. However, The bar owners did not realize how historically significant the bar was until it was renovated in the 1970s. When they discovered that the wall is made of wattle and wicker that dates back to 900AD. They also found old coins that are believed to have been used by the traders in the 10th century. More than a thousand years later, the bar continues to quench the thirsty customers who frequent the place for a good drink and good music. The bar produces its own uniquely blended whiskey in bid to preserve its history and the Irish’s traditions.[16]

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