First lady Melania Trump headed to Tokyo’s high-end Ginza shopping district Sunday, where she and her Japanese counterpart, Akie Abe, visited Mikimoto Pearl’s flagship store.
Mrs. Abe greeted the first lady at the shop, where the women learned about the significance of pearl harvesting in Japanese culture.
The first ladies exchanged cheek kisses and posed for cameras at first meeting, and then retreated to a VIP room at the store for tea. While this is Mrs. Trump’s first trip to Asia as first lady, a meeting with Mrs. Abe was not foreign territory. She previously hosted Mrs. Abe at her Florida Mar-a-Lago estate.
David Mareuil/Pool Photo via APU.S. first lady Melania Trump, second from right, and her Japanese counterpart Akie Abe hug at each other upon arrival at Mikimoto Ginza Main Store, Japan’s pearl jewelry maker, at Ginza shopping district in Tokyo Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.
AP Photo/Shizuo KambayashiU.S. first lady Melania Trump, right, hugs her Japanese counterpart Akie Abe as they visit Mikimoto Ginza Main Store, Japan’s pearl jewelry maker, at Ginza shopping district in Tokyo Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.
Following their private tea, the two women emerged to receive a lesson in the history and process of harvesting pearls.
In a room with a collection of pearls and oysters spread across the table, the two women received a brief lesson on the stages of pearl production. They then posed for a photo with two traditionally-dressed ama pearl divers who wore goggles on their heads and held barrels for oyster collection. Ama divers, which translates to mean “ocean ladies,” are women who dive for pearls oysters, and shellfish without scuba equipment in a tradition that’s more than a thousand years old in Japan.
“Wonderful visit w Mrs. Abe today! Enjoyed conversation over tea & the cultural presentation on the history of pearls,” Mrs. Trump tweeted.
While she and Mrs. Abe perused Mikimoto Pearl’s offerings, their husbands were meeting and playing golf.
Kokichi Mikimoto, the founder of the Mikimoto brand, was the first person in the world to successfully harvest a semi-spherical pearl from an oyster through human intervention over a century ago in 1893. “Mikimoto had discovered the secret to cultivating beautiful pearls of such quality that they rivaled natural pearls,” according to Mikimoto’s website, adding that the firm went on to obtain the first patent for cultured pearls.
The first lady will travel on with President Trump from Japan to South Korea and China, returning to the U.S. when the president goes on to Vietnam and the Philippines for conferences.