Houtoku – Lessons from 18th Century Japan

In the 18th century, year VII of the Tenmei Era, a boy was born who would change the history of Japan. His name, Ninomiya Kinjirô, remains in the minds of the Japanese. His life still inspires many people, including the founder of Ninomiya Corporation.

Kinjirô was born in Kayama City, nowadays called Odawara. His image was immortalized in statues depicting a boy carrying wood on his back and reading a book. These statues placed in front of the schools of Japan have become a symbol of victory for education, altruism and perseverance.

His challenge begins when Kinjirô loses his parents and has been separated from his younger brothers. He moved in with an uncle and started working on crops, but he never gave up studying. In a few years he built a strong and solid financial situation, buying back the lands that were from his parents. Kinjirô began using his knowledge to help the peasants restructure, creating a system he shared throughout Japan, the Houtoku. Kinjirô pioneered sustainable social entrepreneurship and created the first cooperative bank to finance social projects.

Kinjirô dedicated his life to the well-being of the communities, helping more than 600 villages. After his death, Kinjiro received the nickname “sontoku” (the virtuous). Using the principles and moral values of Kinjirô, the founder of the corporation, member of the Ninomiya Family, brought to a modern approach the Houtoku System, for business and social entrepreneurship.

Akira Ninomiya Júnior

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)