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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Family Business Center

Kikkoman's Mogi Family Creed

I have had the Creed of the Mogi Family (as in Kikkoman Soy Sauce, founded 1630, now in its 17th generation of family business ownership) on this website for several years.

Recently, a researcher from Japan let me know of a much older creed, plus a family creed poem, predating the one I had, written in an older Japanese, comparable to Shakespearean English, as he described it. I list that older one below, and the supposedly newer one below that. I am told that the older one (first item below) is similar in style to a commonly used Samurai creed. Many thanks to Aragorn Quinn, UMass graduate language student, for his fine translation, and to Irene Starr (http://www.starr.net/is/starrtech.html and http://www.starr.net/is/type/kbh.html) for finding Aragorn; and to Machie Uemura for bringing this all to my attention. – Ira Bryck

Mogi Family Rules to Live By:

  • Make strong morals your foundation, and focus on money last.
  • Don’t forget your foundation.
  • Strive for harmony in your family.
  • Avoid luxury: a simple life is a virtuous life.
  • Do the job that you were born to do, and only that job.
  • Treat a loss and a big gain the same.
  • Competition can help you get ahead, but do not compete unfairly or to an extreme.
  • Make your main meal boiled rice and barley and one bowl of miso soup.
  • Eat the same food as your servants.
  • Be strict with yourself, but be kind to your servants.
  • Keep your personal expenses low.
  • Use the rest of your money for the good of the community to a level in keeping with your circumstances.
  • Keep track of your finances, and save money for the unexpected.
  • Have a family reunion twice a year. At these reunions, don’t judge your family members based on their income, but rather on their character.

Family Creed Poem by Tadataka

Tie this scroll up tightly and keep these words in your heart.

Even if you work and it is not enough, it is your job.

If you work hard, there will be happiness.

The supposedly newer creed, about one century old.

  • Article I All family members desire peace. Never fight, and always respect each other. Ensure progress in business and the perpetuation of family prosperity.
  • Article II Loving God and Buddha is the source of all virtue. Keeping faith leads to a peaceful mind.
  • Article III All family members should be polite to each other. If the master is not polite, the others will not follow. Sin is the result of being impolite. Families--young and old, masters and workers--govern themselves by politeness; then peace will be brought of their own accord.
  • Article IV Virtue is the cause, fortune the effect. Never mistake the cause for the effect. Never judge people on whether they are rich or not.
  • Article V Keep strict discipline. Demand diligence. Preserve order--young and old, masters and workers.
  • Article VI Business depends upon people. Do not make appointments or dismissals using personal prejudices. Put the right man in the right place. Loving men who do what they should brings peace to their minds.
  • Article VII Education of the children is our responsibility to the nation. Train the body and mind with moral, intellectual, and physical education.
  • Article VIII Approach all living beings with love. Love is fundamental to human beings and the source of a life worth living. Words are the door to fortune and misfortune. A foul tongue hurts oneself and others. A kind tongue keeps everything peaceful. Be careful in every word you speak.
  • Article IX Keep humbleness and diligence, which have been handed down over the years from our forefathers. Make every effort to do as much as you can.
  • Article X True earning comes from the labor of sweat. Speculation is not the best road to follow. Don't do business by taking advantage of another's weakness.
  • Article XI Competition is an important factor in progress, but avoid extreme or unreasonable competition. Strive to prosper together with the public.
  • Article XII Make success or failure clear, judge fairly punishment and reward. Never fail to reward meritorious service, and don't allow a mistake to go unpunished.
  • Article XIII Consult with family members when starting a new business. Never try anything alone. Always appreciate any profit made by your family.
  • Article XIV Don't carelessly fall into debt. Don't recklessly be a guarantor of liability. Don't lend money with the purpose of gaining interest, because you are not a bank.
  • Article XV Save money from your earnings and give to society as much as you can. But never ask for a reward or think highly of yourself.
  • Article XVI Don't decide important affairs by yourself. Always consult with the people concerned before making a decision. Then employees will have a positive attitude in their work

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