Pearls have been cherished jewels in the world throughout many centuries, called “moon drops” and “mermaid tears” depending one’s location. Japan has been known for producing beautiful pearls for a very long time. In fact, descriptions of pearls can be found in “Nihon Shoki”, Japan’s oldest written history, as well as in “Manyoshu”, Japan’s oldest book of poetry. Furthermore, a chapter dedicated to the story of Japan in China’s famous Records of Three Kingdoms also mentioned that one of the ancient queens of Japan sent 5,000 pearls to China.
The beauty of pearls also reached Europe, long before even Christopher Columbus was said to have admired Japanese pearls. By the middle part of the 19th century, the local abusive harvesting practice had forced the natural Akoya pearl oysters to the verge of extinction.
Kouichi Mikimoto was born in 1858, as the oldest son in a family that ran a noodle shop in Toba. He sold vegetables and seafood to earn money for his family while helping out the family business. Kouichi became the head of the family at the age of 20. By then, he had become an excellent businessman with a vast net of experience. When he had an opportunity to visit foreign merchants’ houses in Tokyo and Yokohama, he was surprised to witness tiny pearls being traded at extremely high prices. It was then he started dreaming about having a pearl business someday. After many experiments and much effort, he became the first person in the world to succeed in creating cultured pearls. The year was 1893. Later, he became known as “the King of Pearls”, leading to the beginnings of Mikimoto, one of the world’s most famous luxury brands.
Toba in Mie prefecture is also famous for the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice” (Its pearl diving scene was shot in the area).
Akoya pearls from Mie Prefecture have some distinguished characteristics not seen in other pearls. First and foremost, they have unparalleled color and shine, created by the four distinguished seasons of the local sea. The depth of color of Akoya pearls came from the layers and layers of variable light reflective curves and sea elements. There are many factors that determine the quality of pearls, such as color, shine, shape, imperfection, size, etc. They are rare living jewels that have the allure and power to attract the right person for the right piece. Therefore, please select the one you are most attracted to, and you can’t go wrong.
TOBA Pearl Town
3-3-6 Toba Toba-shi Mie-ken
Time's Place Ujiyamada
Outside of Ujiyamada station 2-43 Iwabuchi Ise-shi Mie-ken