Forget all the theory, all the ideas, and all the academic and advisor analysis on family businesses for just a few minutes and watch this enchanting film (click here) about one of the world’s oldest family businesses.
Houshi Ryokan is now managed by the 46 generation. The ryokan (hotel) was founded in 718. Despite being 1,300 years old, it’s not the oldest - apparently there’s one 13 years older still run by the same family. Nevertheless, this wonderful film shot for The Atlantic magazine by German filmmaker Fritz Schumann tells the story of the ryokan and how it is dealing with succession since the unexpected death of the only son of the current owners Zengoro and Chizuko Houshi.
Departing from so many years of tradition, when the ryokan was always passed over to the eldest son, Zengoro and Chizuko’s daughter, Hisae, looks likely to takeover. In the film, Hisae talks about her reluctance about becoming the next owner. “It is a heavy burden on my mind,” she says.
There is so much in this film that should appeal to any family members running a business - indeed, it should be required viewing for them.