For many hundreds of years, pearls have been the preferred jewel of peoples in all parts of the world. They have especially been cherished in Japan, which is documented in the famous 8th century Japanese classical work, Manyoshu. Pearls used as burial accessories have also been discovered at the grave of Kojiki (Tales of Ancient Matters) author Ono Yasumaro. Of course, every one of these was natural. The practice of pearl culturing would have to wait until the Meiji Era (1868-1912), when the mechanism behind the formation of pearls was understood.

Pearls are solid clusters, composed mainly of calcium carbonate, which are formed inside the shells of pearl oysters. There is an organ within the shellfish, called the epithelium, which creates new shell. When this organ in stimulated by a foreign object, it secretes a pearly substance around it- the ones which become round are pearls. And when the "stimulation by a foreign object" is done artificially, it is called pearl culturing.

The history of Japanese pearl culturing began in 1893, when Mikimoto Kokichi was successful in producing a half-pearl (or "blister pearl") in Shima, Mie Prefecture. In 1907, Nishikawa Toukichi discovered the theory and method of inserting a bead into a host shell and producing a whole pearl. For Ehime Prefecture (where Uchiumi Village is located), the beginning of pearl culturing was in 1907 when Konishi Sakingo purchased pearl oysters and used them in culturing research in Hirajo Bay. Konishi called on Fujita Masayo, an apprentice of Toukichi, and entrusted the research to him. In 1915, Fujita, using a method in which an 11.25mg bead was inserted into the muscle inside a pearl oyster, was successful in producing a whole pearl. This method formed the basis for the mass-production of whole pearls, and pearl culturing was thus set on the path toward industrialization.

Pearl culturing is divided into two main phases: the culturing of the shells which produce pearls, "Host Shell Culturing" (also known as "Young Shell Culturing") and the insertion of beads and production of pearls, "Pearl Culturing". Concerning "Host Shell Culturing", Uchiumi Village is proud to be the number one producer in Japan.

Host shell production in Uchiumi Village began in the mid to late-1950s. Prior to this time, from the Edo Period (1603-1867), fishing by net for sardines, horse mackerel, and mackerel was abundant. Beginning in about 1950, there was a sharp drop in the amount of fish caught, and new industries were sought. Host shell culturing would become one such industry. Since factors such as the water temperature in Uchiumi Bay (which never drops below 15 C, even in the winter), the amount of plankton (which shellfish feed on), and the tidal current were all suitable for host shell culturing, development quickly progressed, and by about 1985 Uchiumi had become one of the wealthiest villages in Ehime Prefecture. In addition, the only area now within all of Japan where pearl oyster young, which were fertilized naturally in the ocean, affix themselves to cedar branches (for harvesting), is exclusively Uchiumi Village and southwestern Shikoku. For this reason, Uchiumi Village is literally the "Home of the Pearl".