Nagoya, Ise-Shima, and the Kii Peninsula Feature
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The Pearl Divers
At Toba, before Kokichi Mikimoto (1858–1954) perfected a method for cultivating pearls here in 1893, Ama, or female divers (women were believed to have bigger lungs), would dive all day, bringing up a thousand oysters, but they wouldn't necessarily find a valuable pearl. Pearl oysters are now farmed, and the famous female divers are a dying breed. On the outlying islands, however, women do still dive for abalone, octopus, and edible seaweed.
The quickest and cheapest way to get from Ise to Toba is a 17-minute ride on the JR Line for ¥230. Pick up English-language maps from the Toba Tourist Information Center, just outside the station.
Toba Tourist Information Center. Outside Exit 1 of Kintetsu Toba Station, you'll find an English map of the main attractions. 0599/25–2844. 9–5:30.
Mikimoto Pearl Museum. This museum on Pearl Island, 500 yards southeast from Toba Station, explores the history of pearl diving in Japan. 1–7–1 Toba, Toba, Mie-ken, 517 8511. 0599/25–2028. www.mikimoto-pearl-museum.co.jp. ¥1,500. Daily at least 9–4:30.Updated: 01-2014
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