acoya

120 years since pearl farming was born
A story for the next 100 years

Forgotten sea

Omura Bay in Nagasaki Prefecture, which has a history of pearls for 1300 years. Also known as the "Koto no Umi," it is a precious sea with the necessary conditions for pearl farming because it is a closed sea area with gentle tides like a lake and abundant plankton.

Most of the pearls currently cultivated in the Japanese sea are Akoya pearls, and among the Akoya pearls in the world, Japanese pearls are highly regarded for their beautiful shine.

The reason is related to the four seasons of Japan. It is said that the nacre layer will be more beautiful by lowering the seawater temperature around the time of the harvesting work called beach raising in December.

Pearl farming begins with raising juvenile mussels, then nucleating the mother mussels, and it takes about 4 to 5 years to raise the beach.

Pearls are produced by the careful care of the pearl farms, but half of the harvested pearls die because they are very dependent on the marine environment at the time of harvest. Therefore, each Akoya pearl produced by the joint work of the sea and human beings is a delicate and precious life.

However, in recent years, some problems such as diseases of unknown cause have occurred, and mass deaths of Akoya pearl oysters have occurred nationwide in 2019, the yield of domestically produced Akoya pearls has decreased, and the pearl industry has survived. We are also facing a crisis.

Meanwhile, there is a woman who was moved by the story of the sea and Akoya pearls and started her activities.

The existence of the "sea" that produces pearls has been forgotten from people's hearts, and at the same time, the beautiful life of pearls raised in this sea and the people of the aquaculture industry that nurture that life have also been forgotten.

"Isn't it possible to change that situation with art and design?" Asks Chitose Ochi, the director of "acoya".

Mr. Daichi, who grew up in Kumamoto, told me that he has loved the sea since he was a child, and that he once again felt the charm of the sea at the sea he visited with his family and Yaeyama in Okinawa. How did she meet the pearls of Omura Bay and how did she continue to this day?

Meeting Dr. Pearl and Mr. Matsuda

Hirado in Nagasaki was once the place where Western culture first arrived in Japan. Since sugar was introduced to Japan through the prosperous Nanban trade, Mr. Daichi was working on a project to disseminate a new confectionery culture to the world with Dutch creators.

That was the reason why I visited Omura Bay for the first time. While doing research around Omura Bay, I happened to find the word "pearl".

The area around Omura Bay is called Sonogi, and it was a rich sea where pearls had been collected for over 1300 years.

The origin of the place name of his sword is recorded in the Hizen no Kuni Fudoki compiled during the Nara period. At that time, when Emperor Keiko visited Tsuchigumo to exterminate the Tsuchigumo, he found three beautiful beads.

From here, we named the area around Omura Bay as "a country with beautiful beads, Sonai Dama no Kuni".A ball is a pearl, that is, a pearl. It is written that this word, "Tamakuni", has come to be called a pearl.

Mr. Daichi was interested in the relationship between nature and people in mythology, and was making stories of and works, so the pearl of Omura Bay. The more I know about the story, history, etc. of " This is something I have to tell the world now " It is called .

But, surprisingly, few people, even the townspeople, knew the history of the pearls.

Mr. Daichi will return to Tokyo and continue his research. Therefore, I would like to meet a person who is engaged in pearl farming around Omura Bay, and when I asked the Higashisonogi government office, I was told that there is only one person who is engaged in pearl farming on the east side of Omura Bay. increase.

This was Mr. Matsuda from Matsuda Pearl Culture.

There used to be more than 20 pearl farms, but now there is only one, Mr. Matsuda.

And, the encounter with Mr. Matsuda who loves the sea and pearls from the bottom of his heart will be the encounter that makes Mr. Daichi decide to tell the world about Akoya pearls.

Mr. Matsuda was willing to accept me as I jumped in and talked about pearls for more than two hours.

Mr. Matsuda is still continuing to use pearls because he went to Kobe when he was young and learned pearl processing techniques as well as aquaculture.

Normally, aquaculture farms only make beads, but in the end, the unit price is cheaper just by making beads, and the processed ones sell much higher, so it seems that they survived.

Mr. Matsuda has a lot of knowledge about pearls, but he wasn't very good at complimenting them. However, although he is clumsy, he is said to have been touched by his warm personality.

From there, I go to the farm every month and learn about the pearl industry by myself, thinking that I can't understand anything unless I go to the actual site.

Pearls lose their lives and produce their beauty

The site of pearl farming that was really shocked.

Well, it's better not to dye the color ...?

The unprocessed natural pearls that I saw for the first time had various colors that could not be expressed by the word white alone, and had a lustrous and beautiful shine. Mr. Daichi says that there is also kindness that is hard to express.

The pearls we usually see are decolorized, colored , ornaments and on the market.

At Shosoin in Nara Prefecture, pearls that are said to have been presented 1300 years ago are still stored with a beautiful brilliance. However, some of them were colored even at that time, and they are now worn out.

Akoya pearls that are raised and taken out from the pearl oyster's womb are just the act of giving birth to life. Like humans, there are no two pearls, and Akoya pearls sacrifice the life of the pearl oyster. , The beauty that is born.

This life is also the crystallization of the polite work of the sea and human beings, and the unique beauty created by the polite work of the sea and human beings.

I want to deliver this beauty as it is ... By doing so, I want you to be aware of the importance and beauty of the existence of the sea.

Such straightforward thoughts became the driving force of Mr. Daichi, and he added the power of art and design to Akoya pearls to propose new value. I decide to raise it.

The

logo expresses that it is not a perfect circle by making it C instead of K, and the C graphic composed of small circle dots respects each individuality. It means .

Aiming with the creator

At

acoya , we asked creators in Japan and overseas to make jewelry using Akoya pearls from Nagasaki.

Tell them the background of pearl production in Omura Bay, let them understand the beauty of pristine Akoya pearls, bring out more charm, and make it the world as a unique art jewelry. It conveys the charm.

By having the creator design it, the value of the pearl as an art work will increase. By doing so, the value of the first industry such as aquaculture will increase at the same time, and I hope that various people will pay attention to it again and become interested in it, and I think it is worth it .

The creator who makes the request is very clear, not only the technique but also the most important thing is "personality and thought".

Since all the thoughts of the creator are projected in the work, I will respect the wonderfulness of thought and personality among the creators I met and request work. Among them, jewelery overlaps with the human body, and I think there is something that leads to overlapping hearts.

Even if the technique is excellent, it is just a decoration if there is no beauty of mind and thoughts. I want jewelry to show who I am, and to deal with life such as Akoya pearls and pearls with awe of nature.

120 years since pearl farming. The story for the next 100 year

Currently, Mr. Daichi has a close relationship with the world in order to convey Nagasaki's Akoya pearls to the world, and Mr. Daichi himself is actively working overseas with a creator living in the Netherlands who has been working with him for over 15 years. We are proceeding in a positive manner.

This year, we have decided to open a store at an exhibition in the Netherlands, embodying the idea of ​​"bringing the beauty of pristine Akoya pearls to the world" one step at a time.

Pearls have always been exported abroad. During the Himiko era, and after the war, cultured pearls were a big success in earning foreign currency.Mr. Matsuda is also expecting expansion in Europe


On the other hand, we hold workshops on pearls in Japan, tell the history and stories of producers, and actively carry out activities to connect the culture of pearls.

Children are really straightforward, so they are very interested in beautiful pearls. Recently, the number of children playing in the sea has really decreased, so I would like you to feel the sea as close as possible through acoya.

It has been about 120 years since pearl farming was born in Japan.

The life of beautiful pearls is born from the rich four seasons of Japan, the sea. After an era of environmental destruction, mass production, and mass consumption, I think it's time for us to rethink our true value.

120 years ago, Japanese cultured pearls brought new value to the world. Then, for the next 100 years, I would like to convey new value from Japan to the world.

The challenge of

acoya has just begun.

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