This Japanese shop is 1,020 years old. It knows a bit about surviving crises

Japan is an old-business superpower, home to over 33,000 with at least 100 years of history - more than 40 per cent of the world's total

Ichiwa, which has been selling mochi to travellers for more than a thousand years, in Kyoto in October. By putting tradition and stability over profit and growth, the family-operated shop has weathered wars, plagues, natural disasters, and the rise a
Ichiwa, which has been selling mochi to travellers for more than a thousand years, in Kyoto in October. By putting tradition and stability over profit and growth, the family-operated shop has weathered wars, plagues, natural disasters, and the rise and fall of empires.PHOTO: NYTIMES
Ichiwa's operator Naomi Hasegawa is not concerned about her enterprise's finances amid Covid-19. Like many in Japan, the business takes the long view.
Ichiwa's operator Naomi Hasegawa is not concerned about her enterprise's finances amid Covid-19. Like many in Japan, the business takes the long view.PHOTO: NYTIMES

KYOTO • Ms Naomi Hasegawa's family sells toasted mochi out of a small, cedar-timbered shop next to a rambling old shrine in Kyoto. The family started the business to provide refreshments to weary travellers coming from across Japan to pray for pandemic relief - in the year 1000.

Now, more than a millennium later, a new disease has devastated the economy in the ancient capital, as its once reliable stream of tourists has evaporated. But Ms Hasegawa is not concerned about her enterprise's finances. Like many businesses in Japan, her family's shop, Ichiwa, takes the long view - albeit longer than most.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2020, with the headline 'This Japanese shop is 1,020 years old. It knows a bit about surviving crises'. Subscribe