The word Shinise in Japanese is used to describe a long-running business but the literal translation is “old shop.” There is no specific number of years to qualify as shinise, a ramen shop in business for 50 years is shinise but many people think of Shinise as businesses that have been operating more than 100 years. Perhaps that is because there are more businesses older than 100 years in Japan than anywhere else and as of 2017, Japan had 7 companies that had been running more than one thousand years!
Data from 2019 shows Japan as having 33,259 businesses older than 100 years accounting for just 2.27% of businesses in Japan. Manufacturing and retail businesses account for 70% and sake producers took the 2nd spot behind retail businesses. Tokyo has the largest number of shinise businesses with 3,363 but when looking at the percentage of the total number of businesses in each prefecture, Kyoto took 1st place with 1403 shinise businesses that account for nearly 5% of all businesses.
Some of the more famous shinise that you may know are beer manufacturers such as: Sapporo Beer (1876), Asahi Beer (1889), and Suntory (1899) but there are Sake companies like Sudo Honke that have been around for 880 years (1141) or traditional confectionery makers like Fujito Manju from Kurashiki in Okayama who established their business in 1184 and still operate from a shop that was built in 1860.
Hotels and ryokans older than 100 years numbered 618 in 2019 and we certainly hope that number has increased in the past 2 years. We were sad to learn that Chinya sukiyaki, a well-known shinise business in Asakusa, near the Kaminarimon gate of Sensoji Temple, will close on August 15 due to the downturn in business during COVID. Chinya has been running for 141 years and it’s sixth-generation owner, Fumihiko Sumiyoshi, told Asahi Shimbun it was really sad because Sukiyaki is a dish that brings people together (all sitting around the table serving themselves from one pot in the middle of the table) but COVID and the social distancing regulations have destroyed all that. We hope by the time we can travel again there are not more of these wonderful shinise closing down.
Talk to our consultants to ensure you know where to go to try the produce of some of Japan’s best shinise!