Kokichi Mikimoto: the Lord of the pearls

Kokichi Mikimoto the Lord of the pearls_1

Today pearls are easily retrievable and any woman in the world can afford one to wear around her neck, but not everyone knows the long story behind this high privilege.

Kokichi Mikimoto, since always fascinated by these little natural wonders, decides to leave the family business, a udon shop (typical japanese spaghetti), to undertake the passion of his life, pearl cultivation, raising his family economical situation and fullfilling his dream to make possible for all the women to afford a pearl.

In 1890 he starts two implants for the cultivation in Toba and Ago Bay, but, even if he put all his concentration and dedication, the first generation of mussels didn’t produced any pearl and the red tide destroyed the entire cultivation.

1000 oysters had been lost but this fact only motivated Kokichi more, making him invest all he had to start this project from the bases again: helped only by his loyal wife Ume, his efforts had been rewarded with the discovery of the first cultivated pearl inside one of his mussels that his beloved wife picked up. It was 11th july 1893.

But the red tide was right after him and this time destoyed 850.000 oysters were destroyed by it; this awful disgrace didn’t came alone though, accompanied by the death of his beloved Ume for appendicitis. Kokichi had been motivated even more by these tragic events, and his dedication were rewarded with the wonderful discovery of one the most perfectly-round pearl.

But his happiness didn’t last long because of the new competition of two opponents, japanese like him, who went to Australia and learnt the tecniques of pearl cultivation; while Kokichi began a legal battle against his two rivals, he also set up his first pearl shop in Ginza, a lively neighborhood in Tokyo, which immediately earned popularity even among the Imperial family.

After winning the legal battle about using the Nishikawa-Mise method of cultivation, he finally became the Lord of the pearls and, using his stubborness even in his business, he managed to expand his company all over the world, such as in London, Paris, Shangai, Mumbai and New York.

The dream of all his life was finally accomplished and, in 1954, the year of his death, cultivated pearls were so popular and famous that every woman in the world (more or less) could have one around her neck.

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