The Awazu Onsen is in many ways no different from any other Japanese hot springs. It is situated in one of the smaller Japanese prefectures and is but one of many onsens scattered throughout the Japanese Islands. However, it does possess one name to fame; it is the home to the oldest family business in the world. The Houshi Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) can trace its history back an astonishing 1,300 years, to a time not so long after the fall of the Roman Empire. Since opening its doors for business in 718, the Houshi Ryokan has been passed down over 46 generations of the Houshi family, and was awarded the Guinness World Record in 1994 for being the oldest inn in the world.
It is said that in 718, a great Buddhist monk by the name of Taicho Daishi climbed to the top of the sacred Mt. Hakusan when a deity of the mountain came to him in a dream. In it, the deity revealed that some 20km away in the village of Awazu, there lay a hot spring blessed with wondrous restorative powers. He instructed Daishi to unearth the hot spring and bless the people of the village with its healing powers. As he unearthed the hot spring and helped heal the villagers of Awazu, he instructed his disciple Garyo Hoshi to build a spa to continue serving the people, an assignment that he and his descendants carry on to this very day.
To those in the family business field, it is no surprise that such an enduring establishment is family run. After all, the longevity and generational success of family business are legendary. And yet for many of us, the inspiring story of the Houshi Ryokan and the dedication of the Houshi family can help refresh the commitment and passion for business and stand as a reminder that any company with a vision can be a timeless establishment to serve the community with high quality products and goodwill for generations.