omi merchants

by 036 Yurika on Mai 19, 2014 - 4:12am

Omi merchants

Omi merchants are said to be a legacy of the present Japanese business. First, I would like to explain what “Omi merchants” are and then research whether their concept can still be found in factories nowadays.

In the Kamakura period (13thcenteruy) there were merchants from Omi, first only around 100 villagers, who were selling their goods (for an example mosquito nets or medicines) throughout the country and brought back specialties of the place visited.

Gradually, they opened their own shops, some firms were having around 15 branches in the late Edo period (1603-1867) across Japan. They had a doctrine called sanpo-yoshi. This concept is about the satisfaction of three parties: The seller, the buyer and society or the environment. For an example, an Omi merchant sells his ware at a low price to another retailer. Although he is losing money, he is gaining something more important, a long lasting business relationship. Additionally by supporting the society with donations or caring for the environment, they gain peoples trust and therefore also new customers for their product. As an example, Omi merchants donated to local shrines or helped residents to pay the taxes on their land, if they were not able to do so themselves. They understood that their business success was closely connected with the opinion of the society.

They also considered their business not as a private institution, but as a public one. One discipline that shows that is their rule that an incompetent housemaster could be replaced by a relative or elder employee. Their main goal is to keep a good business and not the possession itself.


As an example for a corporation that does the sanpo-yoshi, there would be the Kawasaki corporation that has a long history. The origins go back to 1878 and was founded by Shozo Kawasaki, a kimono merchant. Their policy are for an example to build on the trust of the community by producing various mechanical devices of good quality that are useful to society. For an example helicopters for rescues, the ambulance or TV.

They use materials that have a low impact on the environment (“fuel gas desulfurization” or “denitrification system”). They also take care that the municipal and industrial waste are recovered and recycled.

The costumer has the option to use a Good times card which helps the costumer to finance vehicles and other products concerning these products. They also have a system where they consult two people independent of the Kawasaki corporation for improvements. Additionally, there is an auditory that checks the corporation for keeping the rules and law. Their concept is to produce products and do services of safety and quality. This way they gain the trust of their costumer.

Like the omi merchants, they explore business opportunities from other businesses and aim to improve their global business development and compete with existing ones.

However I could not find any information about Kawasaki that was not written by their own corporation, so it is not so representative, what I have researched.








About the author

My name is Yurika. I am half Japanese and half Swiss. 5 years ago I moved with my mother to Japan. I am living now in Shioya, near Kobe (1hour from Osaka, situated at the ocean.)
I am a first year student at Kansai University of International Studies.