Close Origin of the Trade Name Izumiya

Izumiya is the name of a shop Riemon Soga opened in 1590, Sumitomo’s first commercial enterprise. Although no definitive reference exists as to its origin, the following are among the intriguing traditional explanations.

  • Gojo Tenjin, a tutelary god of Riemon Soga, appeared to him in a dream, urging him to “Use the character ‘sen’ if you wish your descendants to prosper.” Riemon selected the Chinese character “sen” that also reads “izumi,” meaning a “spring” from which water wells up, for inclusion in the name of his enterprise.
  • The name of the foreign merchant from whom Riemon learned the nanban-buki refining technique for separating silver from unrefined copper was “hakusui” written in Chinese characters meaning “white” and “water.” A combination of these two Chinese characters forms the Chinese character “izumi,” which Riemon used for the name of his enterprise.
  • Ancestors of Riemon are said to have originated from Senshu, in the southwest of present-day Osaka Prefecture, although this is unconfirmed. Because of the close relationship with Senshu, Riemon used the Chinese character “izumi,” which is used for the “Sen” in “Senshu,” as the name of his enterprise.