Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan: The Oldest Inn in the World

There several companies in Japan that are considered to be the world’s oldest. Many of these companies are local and family-owned, such as breweries and inns (ryokans) which were built along the route from Tokyo to Kyoto, for traders during the eighth century. Japan was the first non-Christian and non-Western country to be industrialized in the 1870’s and even before then, the country already had a well-developed agricultural economy with a sophisticated urban population that provided a strong consumer base.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan. | Screengrab from World Viewers Stop video

This explains how companies were established early on, but not how they lasted for so long. An important factor on why companies last for several generations is the right of primogeniture, where the eldest son inherited all the patriarch’s wealth. This ensured that the company is passed on entirely to a single member of the family.

The custom of primogeniture faded in the 20th century to the rest of the world, but many Japanese company owners still often pass their companies to a single heir aided by adult adoption. This ensures that the company stays within the family with the adoption of the right person to head the business and passing it on. This is also facilitated by marriage between the presumptive heir and the company owner’s daughter with the male taking on the daughter’s surname.  A study conducted in 2011 shows that over 90% of adoptions in Japan were adults. And companies run by adopter heirs outperform those that are run by “blood heirs” and companies run by adopted and blood heirs outperform non-family run companies.

Screengrab from World Viewers Stop video

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is the world’s oldest inn or ryokan and was officially recognized by the Guiness World Records as the oldest hotel in the world in 2011. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a hot spring hotel located at the foot of the South Japanese Alps in Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture.  The Keiunkan Inn dates back to 705AD (the 2nd year of the Keiun era, hence its name), over 1,300 years ago when it was founded by Fujiwara Mahito.

Many people including locals, military commanders, and the Japanese elite were drawn to the secluded mountains of the Kai region and the warm healing waters. It was a popular spot for the military commanders during the Warring States period. No less than Tokugawa Ieyasu himself was said to have visited the inn twice. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan was also referred to as the secret hot spring of Takeda Shingen and Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Nishiyama Hot Spring Keiunkan prides itself for its unchanging hospitality that embodies the heart of Japanese harmony for all of its guests.

Check out Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan in this YouTube slideshow by World Viewers Stop:

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