Chairman and representative director of Ganko Food Service Co., Ltd.
Atsushi Kojima was born in Wakayama Prefecture in 1935. He helped his mother while attending Wakayama Kenritsu Tanabe High School by managing the family business, a general store. Later he graduated from the Faculty of Economics at Doshisha University.
In 1963, he opened a sushi bar called Ganko Zushi in a space measuring just shy of 15 square meters in Juso, Osaka.
In 1969, he incorporated the business and became its president.
In addition to laying the foundation for today’s Ganko Food Service Co., Ltd., he played a leading role in industry as an innovator in the restaurant business.
He became chairman of the company in 2005.
Today, he continues to help ensure Japan’s food culture is passed down to a new generation, and that it continues to develop.
Among the World Heritages in Japan is “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.”
Koyasan and Kumano Sanzan, along with Mt. Omine in Yoshino, are known as the three great sacred sites of Japan, out of a magnificent cultural landscape that encompasses Wakayama Prefecture, Nara Prefecture, and Mie Prefecture. Koya Sankei-michi Pilgrimage Route and the Kumano Kodo have even been registered as World Heritages.
I think it’s deeply meaningful insofar as these sites encompass shapeless spirit and culture and express them in the form of a concrete landscape.
They are truly places in which Japan can be rightfully proud. For me, as someone who was born in Wakayama Prefecture, they make me particularly happy and thankful. These Japanese places resonate with the world, they inspire pride, and they welcome visitors.
I think the same applies to Washoku, traditional Japanese cuisine, which UNESCO has named an intangible cultural heritage.
I love the place I was born, I love Koyasan and Kumano, and I love Japanese food culture, which is the focus of my work. But that’s not enough. Safeguarding these legacies and loving them to the best of our ability: That’s the important thing.