Kokichi Mikimoto was the first to successfully market cultured pearls. Using a technique developed by William Sawville-Kent and brought to Japan by Tatushei Mise and Tokishi Nishikawa he successfully cultured whole akoya pearls and founded the modern cultured pearl industry.
Mikimoto Spent 20 Years Of Research On Culturing Spherical Pearls
Mikimoto was born in Toba City, Japan, in 1858 and was the eldest son in a family that ran a noodle restaurant. He began raising oysters in 1888, and by the late 1890s he had been awarded a patent on a process for culturing mabes (hemispherical pearls). Over the next 20 years, he continued his research into culturing pearls, culminating with his acquisition of a patent in the early 1900s for culturing spherical pearls.
Thereafter, Mikimoto was a tireless advocate of the new culturing techniques and their resulting gems. His efforts opened new markets worldwide for cultured pearls, and essentially created the pearl industry that exists today. For his efforts, Mikimoto received numerous honors and awards from his native Japan. He died in 1954 at the age of 96.
In 1893, Mikimoto became the first person in the world to succeed in cultivating pearls. He did so on the island of what was then called Aijima which we currently call Mikimoto Pearl Island.
Today, the entire island has been turned into a leisure venue where the Pearl Museum also stands. This museum offers such information as how pearls are created and how they are cultivated while also exhibiting a full lineup of its collection that features antique jewelry and artistically-crafted items.
At the Kokichi Mikimoto Memorial Hall, the life of Kokichi Mikimoto, the Pearl King, and what kind of person he was are introduced through various episodes, photos, and his personal items.
In the beautiful Toba Bay, you can see a demonstration by female divers called Ama who show you the old-fashioned style of diving without scuba gear or air tanks. Moreover, pearl products can be purchased and there are a variety of selections offered.
Mikimoto museum – Mikimoto Pearl Island