Breadliness is next to godliness.

Yamazaki Baking Company is a major player in the thriving baked goods market in Japan. With their cornerstone offering of sliced bread, they also provide various snack items like anpan, melon pan, and the widely loved and scientifically stringent Lunch Pack sandwiches.

▼ Lunch Packs are practically a Japanese staple

So, on 4 August, when Yamazaki set out a press release, many assumed it would be another sweet and savory pile of goodness and were caught completely off guard by what the company had to say on this particular day.

The title read dryly enough that they had revised some of their basic management principles. However, on closer inspection, these revisions were quite surprising for a Japanese company. Here are some excerpts:

Main Points
1) Our mission is to contribute to social progress and cultural improvement through corporate management. Based on principles of respect for the individual, freedom, and equality, we will follow the teachings of the Way of Life, and with a courage and patience that do not relent to adversity, realize a lasting business model that fits the Lord’s will.

Specific Policies
The Yamazaki of the 21st Century will follow a new spirit for Yamazaki and a new calling for Yamazaki, guided by the teachings of the Way of Life. We will enact “Product department policies & Sales strategies” and a “why-why analysis subcommittee” from the ground up, and will put into practice, realize, and verify the following six policies.

In both sections Yamazaki makes a reference to “the Way of Life” or in Japanese “Inochi no Michi and it’s not exactly clear what they mean by that. It could simply be a poetic translation for something like “God’s will” but there is a Inochi no Michi Church in Fukuoka that was founded by a South Korean missionary in 2006.

Based on the language, it is conceivable that Yamazaki is somehow aligning itself with that particular Protestant church, but somewhat unlikely as judging by its website Inochi no Michi Church appears to be a really small congregation located far away from Yamazaki corporate headquarters in Tokyo.

▼ Yamazaki was the Japanese producer of Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers for a long time until they parted ways with Nabisco and became a competitor

Whatever the details, Yamazaki is certainly making it clear that Jesus is just alright with them and wants everyone to know it. In fact, those isolated parts of the press release weren’t nitpicked by us. Yamazaki underscored them in the full document to make sure everyone saw it.

In a country famous for its laissez-faire attitude towards religion, Japanese people tend to be pretty tolerant of other people’s beliefs and this case is no different, as shown in the comments below. Yamazaki’s new mission statement was also unsurprising to those who were aware of the company’s history.

“The Iijima family who owns the company have long been Christians.”
“Their founder converted to Christianity. It’s why you hear about Yamazaki trucks giving away free bread to people stranded in their cars. They’re just following Christian tenets.”
“I think Yamazaki are the real-deal Christians. They walk the walk.”
“I think it’s good that a food producer is honest about their feelings and serious about their work.”
“As long as they don’t change their Apple Pie, they can do whatever they want.”
“I heard the company even holds a weekly mass.”
“Bread is the body of Christ after all.”
“I wish I was in that boardroom when they decided this.”

As many of the comments mentioned, Yamazaki Baking Company was founded in 1948 by Tojuro Iijima. Before that, Iijima worked at a famous bakery in Shinjuku, Tokyo, called Nakamura-ya which was founded by the famous entrepreneur Aizo Soma. Soma was a Christian and heavily influenced Iijima both religiously and in the ways of business.

In the early days of Yamazaki (he couldn’t call it “Iijima” because of a trademark problem) Iijima would sell his bread from a cart with a sight that read “God is love – 1 John 4:8.” From there, Yamazaki had its share of difficulties including a family struggle and a fire that almost wiped out the company altogether, but Iijima credits his beliefs for pulling them through adversity to become the huge company they are today.

▼ Yamazaki is also responsible for my most favorite name of any product ever created

His son and grandson, current Yamazaki president Nobuhiro Iijima have also been baptized and continue in his footsteps, as plainly seen by their recent announcement. However, what this new reaffirmation to God means for the company and its products remain to be seen.

▼ I’m rusty on my theology, but I don’t think Apple Pie violates God’s will

But if it means getting some of Lunch Pack’s greatest hits back, like those inhumanly delicious salty vanilla ones, I may just get on my knees and say three Hail Marys myself.

Source: Yamazaki Baking Company, People Touched by the Bible Series, Inochi no Michi Church, Hachima Kiko
Photos ©SoraNews24
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