The Mikimoto Legacy

Pearls are similar to fingerprints in that each one is unique.  They are highly prized gemstones and coveted heirlooms passed on from one generation to the next.  A pearl is produced in the mantle of a living shell mollusk such as an oyster. It is made of minute crystalline calcium carbonate deposited in parallel layers. An ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but there are many other pearls in different shapes.


Mikimoto Kōkichi (御木本 幸吉,  1858–1954) was a Japanese businessman known for creating the first cultured pearl and establishing the Mikimoto luxury pearl company. One of Japan’s top 10 inventors, he has received several awards and accolades such as being inducted into the house of peers by imperial decree. He has been awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure, and the Mikimoto Company is a world renowned luxury brand. Mikimoto Kōkichi is also the founder of Mikimoto Pharmaceuticals, a company specializing in beauty products with pearl calcium.

mikimoto bracelet

In 1888, Mikimoto Kōkichi, together with his wife Ume, began the first pearl oyster farm at Shinmei inlet in Ago Bay, Mie prefecture, Japan. After sever failed attempts, in 1893 he was able to create hemispherical cultured pearls which he debuted at a marine products exposition in Norway in 1897. This was the beginning of his export business.  Using “Mise-Nishikawa method,” where a piece of oyster epithelial membrane with a nucleus of metal or shell is inserted into the oyster to form a pearl sack and create round pearls, Mikimoto’s business took off.

Mikimoto bracelet. | kristi-san


Mikimoto Pearl Island (ミキモト真珠島 Mikimoto-Shinju-Jima) is a small island named after Mikimoto Kōkichi. Located in Ise Bay, it is touted as the birthplace of cultured pearl aquaculture.  The island belongs to Mikimoto Pearl Museum Co., Ltd.  The island has many visitors each year. It contains a fascinating exhibit of pearls and pearl crafted goods and has a show that features ama divers.

Mikimoto Pearl Island. | Miyuki Meinaka