This precept appears in a poem Tomofusa—who founded the Sumitomo Risuke family, a cadet branch of the Sumitomo family—composed shortly before he passed away in 1758. He was a man whose experience of life was rich and varied. Having been born into a cadet branch of the Sumitomo family whose business flagged in his youth, he was accepted into the main Sumitomo family. Tomofusa started as an apprentice and his career subsequently prospered as he rose to more senior positions. In 1721, granted permission to establish a branch family, he founded the Sumitomo Risuke family, establishing a flourishing ironmongery business.
This precept appears in a poem Tomofusa composed as his life was approaching its conclusion. It reads, “My life was not particularly good or bad. The tide is rising in Naniwae [Osaka Bay]. Everything vanishes beneath the waves. I have no grievances.”
It continues: “From the vantage point of the present, one views past and future. Always be trustworthy and never tarnish the family name. Making day-to-day profit is unimportant. Shun wickedness.”
If you are always honest, you will not tarnish your good name. If you pursue short-term gains by dishonest means, you will eventually lose both your good name and your fortune. Tomofusa strictly forbade any wrongdoing.
Offcuts of the obi (a sash worn round the waist of a kimono) of Monjuin (Masatomo Sumitomo), the first head of the Sumitomo family, are used for the mounting of Tomofusa’s precept. The preamble of Monjuin Shiigaki admonishes us to sincerely do our best not only in business but also in every other aspect of life. Tomofusa’s precept reflects Masatomo’s teaching that everyone should be treated with consideration and respect, wisdom that continues to guide us in the contemporary world.