|A Priest's Tribulations
A Meeting with Copper
Elevating Business with Moral Precepts
|A Meeting with Copper|
|Also in Kyoto, and not long after Masatomo was setting out on the path of Buddhism, the 19-year-old Soga Riemon (1572-1636) opened his own small copper business. He was thoroughly absorbed in finding a better way to refine copper. After hearing from foreign traders of a way to separate silver from copper, Riemon experimented over and over until he finally hit on a process-called nanban-buki (a method of refining copper by separating silver from copper)-that would mark an important advance in the history of Japanese mining and industry. With his mastery of this outstanding new technique, Riemon's reputation grew among his peers in the copper trade.
Riemon became close to Masatomo first through a family connection-he married Masatomo's sister-and then through faith-he was also a follower of the same Buddhist teachings. Riemon's son, Tomomochi (1607-1662), later assumed the Sumitomo family name when he was adopted through marriage with Masatomo's daughter, bringing the two families together into one. Tomomochi is the man who built the House of Sumitomo into a major merchant house.