Backstory of Biwako Pearls
Biwako pearls have a long history and are mentioned in the ‘Manyoshu’ – the oldest recorded collection of Japanese waka poetry, dating between 600-759 AD. Mass production in the 1930s made pearls from this area suddenly affordable, at the same time that the saltwater pearl industry was going into serious decline. For many years the word ‘Biwa’ simply meant ‘freshwater pearl’ to the people of Japan. More recently, due to low levels of water and pollution within the lake, the rate of production has been in decline. The beauty of Biwako’s pearls, however, remains undiminished, and speciality pearl makers in the area are making efforts to improve the situation in the lake to continue producing the lustrous pearls for which this area is renowned.