A Japanese Pearl Farm

Part of the Pearls exhibition.

Ago Bay, a large estuary in eastern Japan, is the center of that country's marine pearl culturing industry. A typical Japanese pearl farm on the bay includes four components, both onshore and off. Onshore is a hatchery where adults spawn and juveniles grow to nucleation size as well as a grafting laboratory where workers perform nucleation operations. On the bay are near-shore bamboo rafts from which farmers suspend baskets of recently nucleated pearl oysters for two weeks, and the offshore floats from which workers hang racks of pearl oysters at depths between 30 and 50 feet (10 and 15 meters) for the two-year culturing period.