Kobe, The City of Pearls
Why Kobe is known as "The City of Pearls"
Around 100 years ago, after pearl cultivation techniques were established thanks to the efforts of the Japanese pioneers in our field, the fact that the seas around Japan provide an environment well-suited to Akoya oysters really started to pay off for us. Pearl farms were set up throughout Japan, centering around Mie, Kumamoto, and Nagasaki prefectures. However, because pearls were even more of a luxury item to the average Japanese then than they are now, there was very little domestic demand. For this reason, almost all of the pearls were exported, first to America, and later to many parts of Europe as well.
Back then, of course, all shipping was done by boat. The pearls came to be exported from the Port of Kobe, an international trading port located relatively close to the farms where the pearls were cultivated.
Also, when sorting and processing pearls, the sorting is said to be best done under "the morning sunlight, from the north". With the lush greenery of Mt. Rokko in the north, the area around the Port of Kobe is well suited to these endeavors.
To be fit for the pearl industry, a location needed to be reasonably close to a trading port, and be suitable for pearl processing. Since Kobe met both of these criteria, many pearl companies were established here, and soon almost all of the pearls produced in cultivation farms around Japan started finding their way here.
After World War II, pearls were popular as "an industry that brought the dollars flowing in". The number of pearls exported increased, and many related businesses were established.
It would be no exaggeration to say that Kobe is the center of the pearl industry in Japan. Even today, the City of Kobe boasts approximately 80% of the processing and distribution of Japanese pearls, and most of the pearls produced throughout the country still find their way to pearl processing companies here.