Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba


2018.03.22

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

  • Did you know the first person to create a cultured pearl was Japanese? Koukichi Mikimoto was born in Toba city in 1858, to poor parents, and his first job was selling noodles. In 1893 he successfully produced the world’s first cultured pearl near a small island just off the coast of Toba, now known as Mikimoto Pearl Island. Today, Mikimoto pearls are sold in high-end shops worldwide, and Mikimoto Pearl Island is open to the public as a museum to learn about the history of pearls and their divers.

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    From Toba station, it’s a six minute walk to Toba Bay where the island is accessible by a bridge, and has a variety of things to enjoy. Check out the Mikimoto Kokichi Memorial Hall which celebrates the remarkable life of their founder, the a Pearl Museum which shows everything about the creation and use of these beautiful objects, and be sure to watch the famous ama divers’ demonstration in the water.

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    These are the courageous female divers who dive for pearls, shellfish, and seaweed without oxygen tanks or any other modern technology. On Mikimoto Pearl Island, ama do performances every hour during diving seasons.

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    The island is beautifully laid out with lush green walkways and gardens The centerpiece of Mikimoto Pearl Island is the Pearl Museum. Here you can find fascinating explanations of the process of cultivating of pearls in both Japanese and English, including beautiful exhibitions of Mikimoto pearls across their history.

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    As Mikimoto Pearl Island is the oldest dedicated pearl museum in the world, expect lots of detailed information on pearls presented in a fun and accessible way, including a factory where you can watch pearls being processed and films and artifacts to aid your learning. You will learn about how pearls go from their natural to cultivated state; from insemination, harvesting and drilling, as well as how Mikimoto pearls are marketed and sold, and what sets them apart from their peers.

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    Discover the Origin of Pearls in Toba

    In the Pearl Plaza next to the museum you can buy a wide variety of pearl jewelry, including a single pearl worth over $300,000! Koukichi Mikimoto reportedly dreamed of "adorning the necks of all women around the world with pearls," and his dream is beautifully communicated in this stylishly laid out store. If you don’t buy Toba pearls on your visit, they are available in Mikimoto stores across Japan as well an abroad in Asia, Europe, and North America.

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    Mie Pref. Tobashi Toba 1-7-1
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    0599252028
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