100 Next-Era CEOs in Asia 2012 -The region's best brightest, most promising-

Ichibanya Co.

Founder & special advisor
Tokuji Munetsugu

Message to young people
It’s OK if you don’t have dreams or aspirations. Just always have a definite goal. So long as you are making an effort toward that goal, a miracle will occur as if it were a dream.

The first memories I have are of my father bankrupting the family business by spending all of our family’s savings on betting on cycle races. Even the money my father made through his part-time job was all spent on gambling. My mother, weary of such a husband, left home, and there was a time when I was so hungry that I ate grass. I lived in this kind of destitute poverty until my father passed away when I was a first-year student in high school.

I went to live with my mother and somehow managed to graduate high school by working part-time. Through my years as a child, I became determined to do things on my own and be kind to others. I believe these qualities eventually had a positive impact on my management style.

When I first entered a company, it was a real-estate agency comprised of approximately 30 employees. I became obsessed with marketing. Even though I was introverted and did not fit the bill for a typical salesman, people found my humble and serious nature to their liking, and I was able to gain their trust.

A year after getting married, when I was 23, I started a real-estate business from home. One day, while talking with my wife, we decided to start a café. I was just there to help my wife on the first day of its opening, but I immediately knew that the restaurant business was my true vocation.

Even though we started a company, we had no formal expertise. We just kept on doing things as new tasks came about. However, our company continued to grow at a healthy pace. I believe the secret recipe for growth is to remain sincere and have a customer-first policy.

About eight years ago I found a successor, and in this regard I am very happy to have found a competent CEO to succeed me. Since I have have been fortunate in my success, I would like to give back to society. I started an NPO called Yellow Angel, which deals with welfare and differents kinds of support activities. I also built a concert hall to help foster classical music. I hope to create a peaceful society with kindness as my motto.

Company Profile

Ichibanya Co.