The Kaneko Family’s Business

According to the “Diary of the Kaneko Family” (1843-1854), the family was in the official service for the domanial government and operated lodging facilities for temples and other specific people. In 1854, they opened a pawn shop which dealt with second hand clothes. That shop developed into a wholesale clothing store in 1868, which remained in business until 1975. The Ōmachi district, where the Former Residence of the Kaneko Family is currently located, was developed as a commercial area during the Edo era. In this area, merchant families were granted hereditary license of exclusive sale for specified items, such as silk, cotton, and linen. Such licensed shops in the Omachi-Sanchō sub-district dealt with drapery and clothing, which were then called Ōmachi items.

Heads of the Kaneko Family
(The photo on the right is the 4th-generation head Kaneko Eiji.)
Founder Kaneko Tahei (1830-1893) opened a pawn shop in 1854 and started a wholesale business in drapery and clothing in 1871. With his successor Bunzō, Tahei explored business partners in Osaka and established the base of the family business.
2nd generation head Kaneko Bunzō (alias Kaneko Heiji) (1848-1920) developed the business around the turn of the 20th century and purchased farmlands to become an important land owner.
3rd generation head Kaneko Bunzō (alias Kaneko Seiji) (1871-1946) inherited the business name of Bunzō from his predecessor and developed the family business until the war. He acquired more farmlands and built storehouses to fill them with rice. He built so many frugal and economical houses for rent that people amusingly said: “”The Kaneko family builds houses for rent with cheap box boards.”” He created two family mottos, which he made his family members and servants abide by strictly: “”Be satisfied with little things”” and “”Getting trust is more important than getting money.””
4th generation head Kaneko Bunzō (alias Kaneko Eiji) (1896-1975) inherited the business name of Bunzō. He purchased forests and expanded the family business to forestry. The family business was closed in 1943 during the war, but Kaneko Eiji restarted the wholesale business in textile in 1950. He was also a good art collector.
5th generation head Kaneko Eiichi (1936-present) added new items, such as shirts, school uniforms, and baby clothes, to the business and searched for new business partners. He moved the shop from here to Oroshi-machi in 1975 and closed it in 1982. He started a real estate business with the family possessions in lands and buildings.