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Kokichi Mikimoto was born on January 25, 1858 in the town of Toba on Japan's Shima Peninsula. Dedicated to protecting and propagating stocks of native akoya oysters depleted by over-harvesting of natural pearls, Mikimoto became fascinated with the possibility of producing cultured pearls. After severe financial hardships and innumerable setbacks including devastating red algae blooms, Mikimoto became the first in the world to successfully culture a semi-spherical pearl on July 11, 1893. The site of his success was the island of Ojima near Toba, now known as Mikimoto Pearl Island.