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Northern Okinawa’s first pearl harvest in progress

Date Posted: 2008-03-13

Cultivated black pearls, once the exclusive purview of Ishigaki Island in southern Okinawa, are being harvested for the first time on the prefecture’s main island.

Nakajin Village began cultivating real pearls in the Haneji Inland Bay five years ago, and Ryukyu Pearl Company is now reaping the benefits of its first harvest. The oyster beds are in waters off Ogimi Village, where Tomihisa Kinjo says the crystal clear waters are the best place for cultivating the pearls.

Kinjo first grew small pearl shells in Haneji Bay for three years, then pulled the shells out and inserted pearl nuclei into the shells and returned them to the sea. His company cultivated 1,500 white pearls in the shells, and another 500 black pearls.

The baby shells were initially cultivated in the Iriomote Island ocean region near Ishigaki. Ryukyu Pearl Company says its efforts, modeled after the pearl industry in Ishigaki, is producing big, beautiful pearls.

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