In most museums around the world, you can find paintings and other artwork that feature pearls and pearl jewellery, but in Japan, the birthplace of freshwater pearls, you can visit a whole museum dedicated to them. Off the Pacific coast near the city of Toba on eastern coast of the Mie Prefecture on the Shima Peninsula is Mikimoto Pearl Island, birthplace of freshwater pearls and home of the Pearl Museum.
Whether you are in Japan for business or looking for a different spot for a holiday destination, the Shima Peninsula has a lot to offer for pearl lovers. Mikimoto Pearl Island is named for Kokichi Mikimoto, who is recognized as the first to successfully create a freshwater pearl. He developed the first freashwater pearls right on the island in 1893, dramatically changing the world of fine jewellery forever. The Kokichi Mikimoto Memorial Hall offers displays focusing on his work and his life.
The Pearl Museum itself includes exhibits about the history of society's love of pearls with examples of pearls in artwork, crafts and jewellery from ancient to modern eras as well as detailed information about the pearl industry and technical information about how freshwater pearls are developed. It is a wonderful treat for both true pearl connoisseurs and those who simply love pearl necklaces and earrings.
Mikimoto Pearl Island is connected to Toba City by bridge. Toba was the ancient castle town of the Kuki family, who ruled the region from the 16th century, and the ruins of the castle are still in place. The city is now home to a zoo, botanical gardens and aquarium. Visitors also come to see the Isa Grand Shrines and the fine traditional buildings. Toba is also a great spot for lovers of the outdoors as much of the city is actually within the boundaries of the Ise-Shima National Park.
Read more about different types of pearls and where freshwater pearls sit in these categories in this article here.