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Japan in Arabic Eyes:“Shima”, the city of pearls

By Mahmoud Mohamed Hussein ABDELWAHED
May 20, 2016

As you wander in the city of "Shima" in Mie prefecture, you get a feeling of never wanting to leave or at least the need to return to it again because of the blessings it was granted of green gardens and natural gifts that transmit a self-serenity and peaceful feelings easily received by an Arabic journalist coming from conflict and war-torn zones.

Shima city will host the summit of the group of seven industrialized nations “G-7 summit” next May. These nations run 64% of the world’s economy and they are Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and United States of America.

Shima, the remote peninsula stretching in the pacific ocean south east of the Japanese archipelago, has been selected by the Japanese government to host the G-7 summit given its scenic natural landscapes, natural reserves and historical and heritage sites rich with mountainous forests, flowing rivers, variety of birds and mild warm weather.

For Japanese people, Shima is a sacred destination for devotees from all over the Japanese islands as it has on its grounds the Grand Shrine of Ise, one of the most famous shrines of the ancient religion of Shinto practiced by nearly 80% of the Japanese people.

Shintoism teachings are derived from ancient Japanese beliefs and legends dated back to the 8th century AD. The rituals depends on war memorials and harvest festivals.

The city is also famous for female divers better known as “Ama Divers”, which is a traditional craft of more than two thousand years old, according to Japanese official sources, practiced by female divers who practice diving to the sea bottom without oxygen supply to collect shells and shellfish as a profession for earning their livelihood.

Japanese prime minister shinzo Abe has declared in June last year that he chose Shima in Mie prefecture to host the summit so that the leaders of participating countries could have a full taste and feel of Japan’s beautiful nature and bountiful culture and traditions in this area of Japan which represent the spirit of Japan.

The thing that suggests the government’s intention to promote Japanese culture and heritage as tourist attractions in the presence of the delegations invited to the summit.

Shima city – far from the noise of the crowded cities - is characterized by public parks scattered around valleys and in small islands that was formed by the tides in the pacific ocean…it is embellished by hills covered with trees and plants…UNESCO has inscribed some of these parks on the world heritage list.

However, the pearl producing farms spreading in the Ago bay are considered the most prominent feature of Shima. It has made Shima a global center for cultured pearls since the beginning of this technique in 1910 due to its warm waters which provided an ideal environment for the multiplication of pearl oysters.

The production of pearls goes through a process that starts with collecting two to three years old emerging oysters and injecting the internal tissues with pearl cells using a special technique and then to place the oysters in the sea for one year until the winter season when they are collected and harvested while the water temperature is low.

Naturally, “Shima” will stand out as the host city of the upcoming G-7 summit compared to previous summits. Last year, the summit was held at a hotel in the the German city of “crane”, in 2014 it was held in Hague in the Netherlands and before that in “Aalsebre” in the United Kingdom in 2013.

Originally published on Arabi 21 on March 17th, 2016

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