I rode the train to Toba on my third day at Ise. It’s only a twenty minute ride from Ise and there are two trains per hour. Toba is a resort town with plenty of old fashioned hotels overlooking the many bays and corners that frame the sea. Mikimoto is a world famous name for pearls and Mr. Mikimoto was born in Toba and started his pearl empire from his hometown. There is a whole small island owned by the Mikimoto brand/clan and they have a pearl museum on it, a shop and another museum telling the story of Mr. Mikimoto’s life. The pearl museum shows the cultivation of pearls and how to persuade those muscles to grow them. They also have some pearl studded items and jewelry on display. Of course they have an extensive shop where you can easily get rid of several millions of yen if you have them left over 😉
Another point of interest was the demonstration of pearl diving women called Ama, written in kanji it means woman of the sea. The profession is said to be 2000 years old. Now it is virtually extinct and done only for show since it’s quite a hazardous and hard job. The demonstration was interesting. I timed one of the women and she stayed under for forty seconds, diving six meters deep. I wouldn’t be able to do it! Lol.
Toba has a big and much nicer aquarium than Ise next door. They also have some exotic animals like finless or black and white dolphins. The star of the aquarium is a dugong, the Asian version of the manatee and the 34 year old girl looked very cute.
They also have seal and walrus shows. Since walrus shows are rarer than seal shows I watched that one and the 600 kilo lady walrus was also very cute. Problem of the aquarium was the large number of visitors. Well, it was golden week peak time and I didn’t expect to be alone there, it nevertheless felt a bit iffy to have so many people around you. Sigh…
The highlight of the day was a tourist boat ride around the island studded area of Toba with a stop at a place called dolphin island where you can ride a seat lift to the top and have an excellent view around the entire bay. Of course I stayed on deck for the boat ride and there weren’t that many people either. Thanks to the fantastic weather, it looked very beautiful from the top of the dolphin island. A great finish to a fantastic day.