Updated: June 28, 2017
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History of Pearls in Japan

Love your bling bling? Then you must have heard of Mikimoto, a leading global jewelry company. But do you know that Mikimoto was the 1st firm to cultivate pearls? This article states how it was done!

1) Kokichi Mikimoto

Uwakoya4 https://goo.gl/D6YQHE
Kokichi Mikimoto was born in 1858 in Toba City, Mie Prefecture. During that time, ama (female) divers made their livelihood diving for Ise Pearls. These pearls were of exemplary quality and thus, attracted a lot of interest from jewelry lovers worldwide. Fearful about the likely extinction of oysters, Kokichi Mikimoto channeled his efforts into cultivating pearls - and finally did so successfully in 1893.

2) Akoya oysters

Akoya gai from ago bay https://goo.gl/1ac8WH
So how did Kokichi Mikimoto cultivate pearls? Well, he discovered that Akoya oysters yielded the highest quality pearls, so he devised a way to make a small incision in the flesh of an Akoya oyster. Then, he introduced a particle inside, which facilitated the secretion of nacre. This was necessary to form both the inner layer and outer coating of a lustrous, semi-spherical pearl.

His process spearheaded the development of Mikimoto pearls, which are now renowned the world over for their superior quality!

3) Subsequent inventions

A black pearl and a shell https://goo.gl/RxU7Uc
Following his breakthrough, Kokichi Mikimoto continued to enhance his process. In 1905, he succeeded in cultivating the world's first perfectly round pearl. Not resting on his laurels, he did research on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa and cultivated a classy Black South Sea pearl in 1931. Kokichi Mikimoto was such a genius in the cultivation of pearls that even Thomas Edison commended his efforts, saying how he couldn't make diamonds and pearls in his laboratory!

4) Kokichi Mikimoto's legacy

Mikimoto pearl island from toba auqarium https://goo.gl/3dVv9K
Today, Kokichi Mikimoto's name lives on in the form of Mikimoto Pearl Island in Toba City. A fascinating theme park, it has something to offer everyone. History buffs will enjoy the Kokichi Mikimoto Memorial Hall where they can understand more about his achievements. The Ama San Pearl Diver Stand enables visitors to view actual Ama divers in action as they demonstrate how they dive for pearls.

Jewelry lovers will relish the idea of visiting the Mikimmoto Pearl Museum since they can admire myriad replicas, including those of Himeji Castle and the Liberty Bell. Last but not least, shopaholics, rejoice! You can head over to the Pearl Plaza for some retail therapy.
Now that you understand more about how Mikimoto pearls came about, do you have a newfound respect for Kokichi Mikimoto? Thanks to him, we can indulge in our love for pearls without harming the environment.
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