|Died||21 September 1954 96) (aged|
|Resting place||Aoyama Cemetery in Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo, Japan|
|Occupation||Cultured pearl farmer, Founder of Mikimoto Pearl Company|
|Known for||Inventor of cultured pearls |
The Mikimoto Crown
Miss International crown
Mikimoto Kōkichi (御木本 幸吉, 25 January 1858 – 21 September 1954) was a Japanese entrepreneur who is credited with creating the first cultured pearl and subsequently starting the cultured pearl industry with the establishment of his luxury pearl company Mikimoto.
Kokichi's company was awarded patents for pearl cultivation and in 1985 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the patent system he was selected as one of Japan's top 10 inventors.He was inducted into the house of peers by imperial decree and posthumously awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure.
The company was ranked as one of the world's most luxurious brands by Women's Wear Daily Magazine and Mikimoto was considered one of the best Japanese financial leaders of the 20th century by Nihon Keizai Shimbun.He is also known as the founder of Mikimoto Pharmaceuticals, a company specialising in beauty products containing pearl calcium. Mikimoto Pearl Island is named after him. In addition, the "Phoenix Mikimoto Crown" used by Miss Universe winners as well as the pageant crown used by Miss International is credited to his patented work.
On 25 January 1858, Mikimoto was born in Toba, Shima Province (now Mie Prefecture). Mikimoto's father was an udon shop owner. Mikimoto was the eldest son. At age 11, Mikimoto's father fell ill. He left school at the age of 13 and sold vegetables to support his family. Seeing the pearl divers of Ise unloading their treasures at the shore in his childhood started his fascination with pearls.At the age of 20, Mikimoto noticed the many flaws of pearls as he judged a pearl exhibition in 1878. This began Mikimoto's search for the development of the perfect pearl.
Mikimoto began his search of an alternative method to produce pearls as the chairman of the Shima Marine Products Improvement Association. At this point the demand for pearls had severely outweighed the supply, prompting the consideration of an effort to protect the oysters.
In 1888, Mikimoto obtained a loan to start his first pearl oyster farm at the Shinmei inlet on Ago Bay in Mie prefecture with his wife and partner Ume. On 11 July 1893, after many failures and near bankruptcy, he was able to create the hemispherical cultured pearls. The pearls were made by seeding the oyster with a small amount of mother of pearl.Despite this major discovery there were initially difficulties in selling his cultured pearls due to public confusion. To encourage sales, Mikimoto opened a jewelry boutique in Ginza where he was able to have workers educate the consumer on the nature of the cultured pearls. He introduced these mabes at a marine products exposition in Norway in 1897 and began an export business. However, it took him another 12 years to create completely spherical pearls that were indistinguishable from the highest quality natural ones, and commercially viable harvests were not obtained until the 1920s. In 1927, Mikimoto met with inventor, Thomas Edison, who was in awe of Mikimoto's cultured pearls as it was "supposed to be biologically impossible".
Mikimoto did not know that government biologist Tokichi Nishikawa and a carpenter, Tatsuhei Mise, had each spent time in Australia and learned the secret to spherical pearl production from expatriate British marine biologist William Saville-Kent— inserting a piece of oyster epithelial membrane (the lip of mantle tissue) with a nucleus of shell or metal into an oyster's body or mantle causes the tissue to form a pearl sack. The sack produces nacre, which coats the nucleus, thus creating a pearl. Mise received a 1907 patent for this grafting needle. When Nishikawa applied in the same year, he realized that Mise had already secured a patent. In a compromise, the pair agreed to cooperate, calling their discovery the "Mise-Nishikawa method".
Mikimoto had received a patent in 1896 for producing hemispherical pearls, or mabes, and a 1908 patent for culturing in mantle tissue, but he could not use the Mise-Nishikawa method without invalidating his own patents. Mikimoto then altered his patent application to cover a technique to make round pearls in mantle tissue, which was granted in 1916. However, this method was not commercially viable. Mikimoto finally made arrangements to use Nishikawa's methods after 1916, and Mikimoto's business began to expand rapidly.
The new technology enabled Japan's cultured pearl industry to quickly expand after 1916; by 1935 there were 350 pearl farms in Japan producing 10 million cultured pearls annually.
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In 1899, the first Mikimoto pearl shop opened in the fashionable Ginza district of Tokyo selling natural seed pearls and half round pearls. The Mikimoto business expanded internationally, opening stores in London (1913).
By 1935, the Japanese pearl industry was facing oversupply issues and plummeting prices for Japanese cultured pearls. Mikimoto promoted Japanese pearls in Europe and the US to counteract falling prices. He publicly burnt tons of low-quality pearls as a publicity stunt to establish a reputation that the Mikimoto company only sold high-quality cultured pearls.
After World War II, Mikimoto opened stores in Paris, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai and Bombay, and was thus one of the first Japanese brands to attain an international presence and recognition.
Mikimoto had to constantly fight allegations that his pearls were only "imitations" of real pearls,despite scientific reports to the contrary. Mikimoto took advantage of every opportunity to personally promote his pearls, and took part in the 1926 Philadelphia World Exposition in which he displayed a replica of the "Liberty Bell" covered with pearls.
Mikimoto was the official jeweler of the Miss USA (2003–2008), Miss Universe (2002–2007 and 2017–present) and Miss Teen USA (2002–2008) pageants, under the Miss Universe Organization.
In 2010/2011, the company's estimated total sales were €300 million.
In June 2013, the company was chosen to design and procure five jewels consisting of a brooch, necklace, earrings, bracelet and the state diadem of Princess Kako of Akishino for her 20th birthday anniversary, valued at ¥30 Million JPY (US$279,000). The illustrious tiara features both floral motif and national symbols of Japan.
Mikimoto's wife was Ume, who was also his partner in creating the cultured pearl.Mikimoto and his wife have five children. Mikimoto's children are Rui (eldest daughter), Mine (second daughter), Yo (third daughter), Ai (youngest daughter), and Ryuzo (son). On 21 September 1954, Mikimoto died. He was 96. Mikimoto's personal memorabilia is displayed at Mikimoto Pearl Island Memorial Hall, a museum in Toba, Japan.
A pearl is a hard, glistening object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk or another animal, such as fossil conulariids. Just like the shell of a mollusk, a pearl is composed of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes, known as baroque pearls, can occur. The finest quality of natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries. Because of this, pearl has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, admirable and valuable.
Mie Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region of Honshu. Mie Prefecture has a population of 1,781,948 and has a geographic area of 5,774 km². Mie Prefecture borders Gifu Prefecture to the north, Shiga Prefecture and Kyoto Prefecture to the northwest, Nara Prefecture to the west, Wakayama Prefecture to the southwest, and Aichi Prefecture to the east.
Toba is a city located in Mie Prefecture, Japan.
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Shima is a city in Mie Prefecture, Japan.
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Ohama Kagetaka was a Japanese pirate during the latter part of the Sengoku period and the Azuchi-Momoyama period of Japan. He operated in the Shima Province area, and later commanded naval forces for both Takeda Shingen and Tokugawa Ieyasu before his death in 1597 at the age of 57.
Toba Station is a railway station in Toba, Mie, Japan, jointly operated by Central Japan Railway Company and the private railway operator Kintetsu Railway. The station is 29.1 rail kilometers from the terminus of the Sangū Line at Taki Station. It is 13.2 rail kilometers from the terminus of the Kintetsu Toba Line at Ujiyamada Station and 41.5 rail kilometers from the terminus of the Yamada Line at Ise-Nakagawa Station.
The Toba Line is a railway line operated by the Japanese private railway company Kintetsu Railway, connecting Ujiyamada Station in Ise, Mie with Toba Station in Toba, Mie. The line runs parallel to JR Central's Sangū Line.
The Ise-Shima (伊勢志摩) region, also called the Shima Peninsula, refers to the areas of eastern Mie Prefecture (Japan) in or around Ise-Shima National Park, which include the cities Ise, Toba, Shima, and parts of the town of Minami-Ise. The area thrives on tourism, with many resort hotels and beaches in the area. Ise-Shima is also famed for fresh seafood, particular oysters.
The Shima Line is a railway line in Mie Prefecture, Japan, operated by private railway operator Kintetsu Railway, connecting Toba Station in Toba with Kashikojima Station in Shima.
Ago Bay is a bay in the city of Shima, Mie Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the Ise-Shima region.
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