Day 10 (Ise city)

Posted By: Creator of Zsup

Ise City. Home of the Shinto's Holiest Shrine. BUT, I'm not covering that. Instead I'm covering the Mikimoto Pearl Island.

Mikimoto Pearl Island is situated just 5 mins from TOBA STN (JR or Kintetsu) and is readily accessible via the local tourist bus, the CAN bus.

Right, so the first thing we did there was to rush to see the Traditional Pearl Diving done by the diving ladies. The temperature then was:

Yes, it was that damn cold. Wind was really strong too.

So the ladies started diving soon, and there were happily gathering oysters for us to see. I thought I spotted one of them with purple lips though. Admirable people, getting down into the water at that temperature without wetsuits, oxygen or anything. The whole show lasted only about 10 mins though; probably because any longer and they would get hypothermia. Video will be up soon.

After the performance, we went to the Pearl museum, to learn more about the comings and goings of the pearl trade. It was an eye opening experience. I managed to learn how to identify man-made (Fake) pearls from cultivated or natural pearls. There was also a talk in Japanese on how Mikimoto cultivates their pearls, the methods are extremely graphic, even though it was only an oyster, however I believe if it was a Human in that place, the rating would be R21 for extreme gore.

You see, cultivation of pearls is kind of like IVF. First, one has gotta prepare the Nucleus, on which the Pearl is grown within the oyster. The process starts with cutting our a portion of the flesh of the oyster, and then forcefully opening it, and cutting a slit at its Gonads (sexual organs) to place both the flesh and Nucleus into it. After which, the pearl will react to the foreign body and coat it with nacre (I liken it to discharge).

I have a video which will be posted soon. However here are some interesting pictures for your viewing pleasure.
    This is the stuff you oyster eating people eat.

Well, to return to the topic of pearl cultivation, I realised it was such a Barbaric act. The tools required were like the stuff from Victorian torture rooms, with pliers, scalpels, clamps of all sorts. The process was just as bad, just imagine if IVF was done in the same way; i.e. having the ovaries sliced open to place a foreign body which forces the body to become fertile and pregnant.

Here are some pictures of the torture devices.

See what I mean? For such beautiful object prized by so many, they sure have a barbaric process of production. Just because it's a shellfish doesn't mean this can be done to it.

Anyway, to make the day more beautiful, here are some pictures of the really pretty pearls.

Well, for 1,500 yen entrance fee, I wouldn't say its ravingly good. But I certaintly think that its a perfect place to learn new stuff and see really beautiful pearl products. Just don't head down to the shop unless you really really want exclusively priced pearls.

On a side note, Ise City is a real tourist magnet. Possibly cos of the religious aspect; afterall it does house the Holiest Shrine of Shinto. My verdict? Go, one probably won't regret spending a day down at Ise. But if one wants to see more than the Shrine and the Pearl Island, do start early because alnmost everything closes by 5pm.

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