Mikimoto Pearl Island

The birthplace of modern pearl cultivation where women dive for pearls

Toba Aquarium is a popular tourist attraction that offers visitors a unique and fascinating experience. However, for those who are interested in the history and culture of pearl cultivation, a visit to Mikimoto Pearl Island is a must. This small island is where the cultured pearl industry first started, and it is home to the renowned Mikimoto Pearl Museum. Here, visitors can learn about the fascinating process of pearl cultivation and admire the stunning jewelry made with these precious gems. Additionally, one of the highlights of a visit to Mikimoto Pearl Island is the opportunity to witness traditional pearl oyster diving performed by women, known as ama, who dive without scuba gear. This article will provide a detailed overview of Mikimoto Pearl Island, including how to get there, the history of pearl cultivation, the role of pearl divers, and the attractions available on the island.

How to Get There:
To reach Mikimoto Pearl Island, visitors can take a JR train to Toba Station on the Sangu Line. If coming from Nagoya Station, the Kintetsu Limited Express takes approximately 95 minutes, while the JR Rapid Express Mie takes around 100 minutes. From Osaka-Namba or Kyoto stations, a Kintetsu train will bring visitors to Toba Station in just over two hours. From Toba Station, it is a short walk to the bridge that connects the shore with the island.

History of Pearl Cultivation:
The history of pearl cultivation on Mikimoto Pearl Island dates back to 1893 when Kokichi Mikimoto, a resident of Toba, made a groundbreaking discovery. He found a way to culture pearls, which revolutionized the pearl industry. Mikimoto set up a pearl farm in Ago Bay and began cultivating pearls on a large scale. He soon expanded his business to include overseas sales, achieving great success. Today, pearls remain an important part of the local community, and Mikimoto Pearl Island continues to be a hub for pearl cultivation and jewelry production.

Role of Pearl Divers:
One of the main attractions of Mikimoto Pearl Island is the demonstration by pearl divers, known as ama. These women have a long and storied history of diving for pearls without the use of modern scuba gear. In the past, they used traditional implements to harvest pearls from oysters on the seabed. Although pearl diving is no longer practiced in the same way, visitors can still witness the physical demands and skills required for this ancient profession. The ama divers demonstrate their techniques and share their experiences, providing visitors with a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of pearl diving.

Museum and Gift Shop:
Mikimoto Pearl Island is home to a museum that showcases the history and artistry of pearl cultivation. The museum provides information in English, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the exhibits. There are two main sections in the museum: one dedicated to pearl jewelry and the other featuring works of art made from pearls. Visitors can admire the intricate designs and craftsmanship displayed in both sections. Additionally, the museum offers the opportunity to purchase pearl jewelry, allowing visitors to take home a memorable souvenir of their visit.

Attractions on Mikimoto Pearl Island:
Apart from the museum, there are several other attractions on Mikimoto Pearl Island that visitors can explore. One of the highlights is the Pearl Plaza, a shopping area that offers a wide range of pearl jewelry and accessories. Here, visitors can browse through a variety of designs and find the perfect piece to suit their taste. Another must-visit attraction is the Pearl Theater, where visitors can watch a fascinating documentary about pearl cultivation and the history of Mikimoto Pearl Island. The theater provides an immersive experience that enhances visitors’ understanding of the industry and its cultural significance.

Mikimoto Pearl Island is an exceptional destination for those interested in the history and artistry of pearl cultivation. From the museum showcasing elaborate pearl ornamentation to the demonstrations by pearl divers, visitors are treated to a unique and educational experience. The island’s rich history, coupled with its stunning natural beauty, makes it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Toba region. Whether you are a jewelry enthusiast or simply curious about the process of pearl cultivation, a visit to Mikimoto Pearl Island will undoubtedly leave you with a deeper appreciation for these exquisite gems and the cultural heritage associated with them. So, if you find yourself in the area, be sure to set aside time to explore Mikimoto Pearl Island and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of pearl cultivation.

Address And Maps Location:

Toba-shi, Mie-ken

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