Dive into Mikimoto Pearl Island
Mikimoto Pearl Island in Japanese, Mikimoto-Shinju-Jima is a small island in Ise Bay, offshore Toba in the Mie Prefecture, Japan.
This island is known as the birthplace of cultured pearl aquaculture and it belongs to Mikimoto Pearl Museum Co. Ltd. The company runs the island as a pearl tourist attraction, shows featuring ama divers, exhibits pearls and pearl craft goods at the Mikimoto Pearl Musuem. The island is a five-minute walk from Toba Station.
Mikimoto Pearl Museum
The pearl museum is dedicated to Mikimoto Kokichi, the pioneer who first succeeded in cultivating pearls. There are 4 parts to the tour: the museum, the diving show, the memorial hall about Mikimoto’s inspiring life, and the shop where you can custom our own pearl jewelleries. If you are interested in jewellery and pearls this is the best place to visit. The entrance fee for adult is 1500 yen. You might want to spend at least 2 hours here for the best experience about pearls.
The Musuem – About Pearls
The first section of the tour shows about pearls and how pearls are cultivated in very detailed explaination both in Japanese and English such as pearl oysters, types of pearls, the culture process, the cultivation of the pearl oysters, how to tell the difference between cultured round pearls and fake round pearls, the transformation of pearls into wearable jewels and the grading of pearls.
The displays about the cultured pearl process provide some background to the development of the pearl industry since the 19th century until how it is now.
The Mikimoto Pearl Musuem also offers hourly performances by female pearl divers, known as Ama, one of the oldest profession for Japanese women who already existed since 3,000 years ago. Ama culture become one of the main attractions for tourist in Toba.
The ladies dive in the sea without breathing equipment and bring up shells and oysters. Observe how they start from diving in to the sea, back to the surface and the whistle they make is very characteristic to communicate with each other then lastly coming back to the shore
History of Kokichi Mikimoto
On the 3rd part of the tour in the musuem, you get to learn the inspiring story of Kokichi Mikimoto in 1983. Mikimoto’s personal memorabilia is displayed at Mikimoto Pearl Island Memorial Hall.
Kochiki Mikimoto starting the cultured pearl industry with the establishment of his luxury pearl company Mikimoto. Subsequently began his search of an alternative method to produce pearls as the chairman of the Shima Marine Products Improvement Association. At a point the demand for pearls had severely outweighed the supply, prompting the consideration of an effort to protect the oysters.
Mikimoto Pearl Museum
On the second floor of the museum there are many beautiful pieces of old jewellery and other artifacts made of pearl. There are at least 8 works of art to see and many beautiful jewelry pieces on display.
At the end of the museum tour, you can buy some pearls made by te Mikimoto company. The pearl ranges from quality and prices as well. There are some which are pocket friendly prics and those that are exclusive and pricey as well. You can also custom your own jewelries with the available pearls in the shop!
After all of those visit, you can perform your prayers in the guest room prepred exclusively for their tourist visitors. The staff will be kind to provide these facilities to you, although you must make reservations at the ticketing before you enter the museum, then you have to specify what time you will pray so that they can prepare the space for you. The staff will suggest you to go to Guest room for overseas visitors that you can use to pray, this room has indicated the direction of Qibla.
Ama Hut Hachimankamado Experience
Not far from the musuem, you can experience what is like to dive and pick oyster and pearls like an Ama! Meet the real Ama-san and have a chat with them, you can take a tour organized by Hachimankamado, a tour operator owned by local residents.
On this tour, you will visit Ama hut and have fresh seafood grilled by the Ama in front of you. For Muslim tourist, the meals are made with non-alcohol homemade miso and shoyu sauce. While enjoying the appetizing seafood, The Ama san will tell their history and their experience doing this traditional fishery while you eat. At the end of the tour, you can wear an Ama costume and strike a pose in front of the hut for a memorable picture!