A Japanese Buddhist Publishing Company
May it rise from the ashes
check back to this page for any new developments we hear of
Samgha has declared bankruptcy. The staff have all been
dismissed but are meeting regularly. Samgha published Buddhist and self-help
Books that are dear to me, DC, that they publish:
two of Shunryu Suzuki lectures - Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Not Always So
the biography of Shunryu Suzuki, Magatta Kyuri, Crooked Cucumber
and Zen wa Ima Koko, Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki
Blog post on the Samgha situation
in both Japanese and English - online scroll down for English
or read it below
To All Who Have Supported Samgha:
This document was written by the former employees of Samgha. The Samgha Corporation began the process of bankruptcy in court on January 27, 2021 (Wednesday).
We have caused great worry and inconvenience to everyone; we have also received many words of encouragement and are full to the brim with gratitude. As such, we are offering information here about what has transpired up until now, the current situation, and what happens next.
What Happened Leading Up to the Bankruptcy
The Samgha Corporation submitted bankruptcy papers to court on January 27, 2021 (Wednesday). (https://samgha.co.jp/7015/) Its employees were dismissed that same day, and the head office in Sendai was closed, released into the charge of the bankruptcy trustee.
Here we will explain in simple terms what transpired up to that point.
The Samgha Corporation, specializing primarily in Buddhist books, published many titles across a broad range of themes, generally publishing about three books each month. However, we weren't able to sell as many books as planned and wound up with a large stock of unsold inventory. These circumstances continued to deteriorate, and in the latter half of the first year of Reiwa, the sale of our books continued to decrease, despite a practice of careful screening based on estimated proceeds, and our operating funds began to dwindle.
In the midst of this, our founder and managing director Tōru Shimakage died unexpectedly in July 2020. As a result, his wife Yumiko took up the post of our new managing director. Later, in the latter part of 2020, we began to produce online seminars in order to make up for diminishing sales. Unfortunately, we did not anticipate how much of the debt repayment we would need to counterbalance with these funds, and the managing director decided to suspend business operations on January 1, 2021.
On the morning of the day in question (1/27) four of our employees filed the petition for bankruptcy, and that same day all employees were formally dismissed.
The headquarters in Sendai were closed and, its work unfinished, the activities of Samgha ground to a halt.
We had been on the brink of approving a publication schedule for 2022 that might somehow improve sales and show a way forward for the company (encouraged by the two year grace period for debt repayment then allowed by financial institutions hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic), when Samgha declared bankruptcy.
What is the "Samgha Corporation"?
The Samgha Corporation was founded in 1999 upon founder Mr. Shimakage's resolution and earnest desire to propagate Buddhism. The first order of business was to publish a book by the Sri Lankan monk Alubomulle Sumanasara.
Before he founded the Samgha Corporation, Mr. Shimakage managed the company "Shimakage's Ice Cream." From the inception of Samgha, he struggled against the odds as he entered an industry hitherto completely foreign to him. Yet in the midst of these struggles, he turned out a number of bestsellers that included Okoranai koto [Not getting angry] (Author: Alubomulle Sumanasara [Now available in English as Freedom from Anger, Wisdom Publications, 2015]), a translation of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Author: Shunryu Suzuki, Translator: Tarō Matsunaga), Kokyū no hon [The Book of Breathing] (Authors: Shuntarō Tanikawa and Toshirō Katō), EQ2.0 [Emotional Intelligence 2.0] (Authors: Travis Bradberry and Jeane Greaves, Translator: Miwa Seki), among others.
Consistently underlying these efforts was the desire to produce books and other content that would lift the spirits of our readers and offer guidance on how to live a happy life. Fundamentally, we value Buddhism not as a "religion", boxed in by the belief system of a religious sect, but as a "school of the heart/mind."
To that aim, Samgha was able to widen its scope beyond Buddhist books to include the production of books related to mindfulness (which highlights the commonalities between scientific developments and Buddhism) and books that explore how our hearts and minds are engaged in the practice of business.
Many Voices of Encouragement and Support
We received many messages in response to our bankruptcy announcement from our readers, much greater in number than from our writers.
Many people told us that "Samgha's books supported my heart and mind," and that they had longed for books like Samgha's that addressed the deeper aspects of our lives. We received many messages saying "Samgha had such a great impact; is there no way we might revive it?" and "If there's anything I can do, please let me help."
Knowing that so many of our readers loved the books that we worked so earnestly to bring to life brought tears to our eyes.
Even after Samgha's dissolution, we former employees continue to meet every morning on Zoom, primarily to discuss how we might move forward from here.
Now that we no longer have the Samgha Corporation, our position is nothing more than "former Samgha employees." Even so, we wonder, is there something we can do in light of the very fact that we are former employees? Isn't there something we should do? Holding that sense of duty in our hearts, we now turn to face our current reality.
Hearing how much Samgha was loved by our readers, our writers, and the many people involved in the production of its books, we resolved to find a way to venture forward on a new path to revive Samgha.
The Path to Revive Samgha
The word "samgha" originally means the community of Buddha's disciples. This community includes all of the monks and laypeople who have followed the Buddha's teachings in the 2500 years since his parinirvana.
In listening to your heartfelt words, we realized that perhaps it's less the publisher Samgha and more the Samgha community, and the warm connections between people it has enabled, which we should concentrate our efforts into transforming.
Up until now, the success of Samgha's content has been thanks to the strong leadership of our founder Tōru Shimakage. We believe that moving forward, it is our mission to hand down Mr. Shimakage's great achievements in the world of Japanese Buddhism in a new form.
That new form will be directed not by the leadership of one, but by harmonious cooperation modeled on the Samgha organization's management style: the New Samgha (Samgha Shinsha).
Emulating the community of compassion and wisdom of the Buddhist samgha, we wish to cultivate a Samgha Shinsha platform. Through the deep connections we have found with each other through Samgha's publishing activities, we are challenging ourselves to bring something valuable and innovative into this new era.
Everything we do is for the profit and happiness of all living beings, great and small. To bring this vision into reality, we will need everyone's support.
As we turn our hearts and minds towards the emerging Samgha Shinsha, we humbly ask that you lend your strength to this endeavor as you are able. Please keep an eye out for our start-up plan for Samgha Shinsha in the near future.
February 10, 2021
Yuki Satō (Samgha's Former Editor in Chief)
Eisaku Kawashima (Samgha's Former Associate Editor)
Kōji Igarashi (Samgha's Former Marketing Director)
Shinsuke Kojima (Samgha's Former Management Director)
Translated from the original Japanese (accessed 3/26/2021) by Susannah Duerr.
Email from Hideko Oga - April 10, 2021
I am sorry about this disappointing business ending.
I have no other friends in Japan with the western style Buddhism like Sangha Publisher but all belong to the Japanese preset structure. I can imagine getting the new wave to the old establishment is hard.
It’s like opening a Japanese green tea business in UK. That’s interesting and inspires some but not enough to sustain it as a business.
I wish I could help but I guess it’s beyond me. I wish I could say or do something!