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The Story of Japan's Ohmi Merchants

The Story of Japan's Ohmi Merchants

The Precept of Sanpo-yoshi

Suenaga Kunitoshi
Translated by Larry Greenberg

Future Titles / Business & Economics


Published by JPIC | ISBN 978-4-86658-057-9 (Hardcover) | 178 pages | 210mm (h) x 148mm (w) | May 2019

About the Book

From its very origins, Ohmi was a highly developed region bordering Kyoto, the center of political power. For that reason, the history of Ohmi is closely tied to the history of political, cultural, social and economic development in Kyoto, and therefore Japan as a whole.

Ancient Ohmi was first developed by immigrants from the Korean Peninsula and China, known as Toraijin (literally, people who have crossed over), who migrated in groups as a result of dynastic turmoil in their homelands.

Ohmi was also a vital crossing point that connected Kyoto with eastern Japan. The intersection of the Nakasendo Road and the Tokaido Road, the most important routes connecting Heiankyo with eastern Japan, was located within its borders. Lake Biwa also served as a trade waterway to reach the Sea of Japan to the north. This vital traffic of people and goods led to the early development of organizations and individuals engaged in the concentrated delivery of vast quantities of products.

Ohmi merchants, with their long eight-hundred-year history starting from the medieval period, can be considered the very source of Japanese-style management. The key concepts that they developed have underpinned the success of Japanese corporations for generations.

These include a broad range of core concepts such as “three-way satisfaction” and corporate social responsibility (CSR), considering a third-person perspective, being a member of society, a healthy tension with society, customer satisfaction, contribution to society, the social consciousness of “good for the world”, appropriate profits, avoid waste and give your all, the spirit of the peddler, faith and devotion, talent & innovation, leveraging information and investing in startup ventures.

Inspirational and practical, this book is a treasure trove of useful ideas and tried and tested methods that have helped Japanese corporations and individuals achieve success for generations. It is highly-recommended for any student of business or anyone who wants to dig deep into the historical and social background that has helped Japanese companies overcome adversity and achieve greatness.

About the Author

SUENAGA Kunitoshi

Suenaga Kunitoshi was born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1943 and grew up in Saga Prefecture. After graduating from the Faculty of Economics at Doshisha University, he received his doctorate in economic research from the Graduate School of Economics at the same university. Holding the title Doctor of Economics, he served as a professor at the Faculty of Economics at Kyoto Sangyo University and went on to become a professor in the Faculty of Economics at Doshisha University. Currently, he is an emeritus professor at Doshisha University and the director of the Ohmi Merchant Local Museum (Foundation).

Specialties: Japanese Economic and Business History

-Kindai Ohmi shonin keieishi-ron [Business History of Ohmi Merchants in 19th-Century Japan], Yuhikaku Publishing, 1997
-Ohmi shonin: Gendai o ikinuku bijinesu no shishin [The Ohmi Merchants: Business Indicators for Surviving the Present Age] Chuokoron-Shinsha, 2000
-Nikkei Kanada imin no shakai-shi: Taiheiyo o watatta Ohmi shonin no matsuei-tachi [Settlement Process of Japanese Canadians: Descendants of Ohmi Merchants who Crossed the Pacific] Minerva Shobo, 2010
-Ohmi shonin, sanpo-yoshi keiei ni manabu [Ohmi Merchants, Learning from Sanpo-yoshi Management], Minerva Shobo, 2011
-Ohmi shonin to sanpo-yoshi: Gendai bijinesu ni ikiru chie [The Ohmi Merchants and Sanpoyoshi: Wisdom for Survival in Modern Business], Institute of Moralogy, 2014

Joint Publications: Henkakuki no shonin shihon: Ohmi shonin Chogin no kenkyu [Merchant Capital in Nineteenth-Century Japan: Research on Ohmi Merchant House Chogin], Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1984






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