Japanese Inn Has Been Passed Down 46 Generations

PHOTO: The Houshi Ryokan was founded in 718 and has remained under management by the same family since then.Namazu-tron/Wikimedia Commons
The Houshi Ryokan was founded in 718 and has remained under management by the same family since then.

Talk about keeping it in the family.

Houshi Ryokan, a Japanese inn that opened in the Ishikawa prefecture in 718, has been managed by 46 generations of the Houshi family during its 1,300 years of operation.

"The Houshi family's responsibilities are: passing on our long history for future generations, and to protect our hot spring," family patriarch Zengoro Houshi said in an interview with The Atlantic. "That's why we have to bear with many things and endure it all."

Descended from a Buddhist monk, the family has traditionally passed down management of the inn to its eldest sons. But after Zengoro and wife Chizuko Houshi's own son passed away unexpectedly in 2013, the family has since decided to buck convention and turn the reins over to their younger daughter, Hisae.

"I now have many unimaginable responsibilities," Hisae told The Atlantic, acknowledging that she had previously planned to move away and work in a different field. "It is a heavy burden on my mind."

But the legacy and future of the inn require her to now stay with her family.

"In 1994 Houshi was recognized as the oldest hotel in the world by the publishers of The Guinness Book of Records," the Houshi website reads.

The title has since been claimed by another Japanese property.

"We did recognize Houshi Ryokan in Japan until we were made aware of the current record holder," said Anthony Yodice, a spokesperson for Guinness World Records. "The oldest hotel is the Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi, Japan, a hot-spring hotel, which has been operating since 705 AD. – this was made official in 2011."

Still, the family-run Houshi lodge maintains its appeal. Throughout its tenure, the property has been visited by emperors, dignitaries, geishas and many families drawn to its hot spring, spa, signature wagashi confection and bucolic setting.