Mikimoto Pearl Island
Have you heard of Mikimoto? Yes, it is a world famous pearl company. Mikimoto is a name of the founder, Kokichi Mikimoto who is regarded as a king of pearl.
Life of Kokichiro Mikimoto
Kokichi Mikimoto was born in 1858 at the end of Edo Period by Tokugawa shogun. His father was a udon-noodle manufacturer and loved to invent new machines. His grandfather was a clever merchant. Their attitude toward the business influenced a lot to the ,life of Kokichi. He didn’t get high education, but he learned how to read and count using abacus privately after the Meiji Restoration. Then he dealt with vegetable, rice and sea products.
When he was 30, he learned that because of the overexploitation, Akoya pearl oyster had become endangered. He thought it would be a good business chance if he made cultured pearl. Two year later he started the study of cultured pearl at two places in Mie Prefecture, Shimenoura and Ojima which is called Mikimoto Island now. In 1893, he finally succeeded to make half-circle cultured pearl. In 1907, his son-in-law Nishikawa got patent to make a round cultured pearl.
In 1899, he opened a pearl shop in Tokyo then moved to Ginza, the most famous shopping district in Japan. In 1913, he opened a branch shop in London. At the beginning, cultured pearl was regarded as false product in the western countries, but later they started introduce it. He said “I will decorate all the ladies’ necks with the pearl” in front of the emperor.
Mikimoto Pearl Island
Mikimoto Island was opened to the public in 1951. The whole island is like a museum. You need an entrance fee to go into the island. You can go to the island crossing the bridge. In the museum, you can learn how to make cultured pearls and they exhibit different types of pearls from all over the world. You can see many artistic works using pearls, too.
Ama divers demonstration
You can see the demonstration how the women divers called Ama catch the pearl oyster in the ocean. They don’t use air tank and wet suite. They just bring wooden buckets to put the pearl oysters.
After the visit of the museum, you can have a chance to buy pearl products. They sell wide variety of products from the reasonable small souvenirs using pearl to the expensive gorgeous accessories.
Interestingly, they sell the cosmetics using the pearl powders. They say it is good for your skin.
Access from Nagoya Station: Take Express train of Kintetsu Line to Toba Station. It takes about 1 hour 40 minutes. Then about 10 minutes walk from the station to the Mikimoto Island.
Entrance: 1,650 yen for adults / 820 yen for junior high school and elementary school students
Hours: From 9:00 to 17:00