Toba is about 2 hours from Osaka on the Shimahanto (Shima peninsula). It is a very touristy area, mainly due to the pearls. This is where Mikimoto have their pearl farms, museum and shops.
Toba also has lots of seafood, awabi (abalone), ise ebi (a spiny lobster), sazae (horned turban). If you're not able to eat seafood or don't like seafood, this is definitely not the place to visit.
There are lots of areas in Toba that have been featured in a book by Mishima Yukio called "Shiosai" (I don't think I've read this book, so I'm not too familiar with it).
If pearls aren't your thing, there is also an aquarium and a cruise around the bay.
The cruise ship was supposed to resemble the characters in a folk lore "Urashima Taro" similar to "Rip van Winkle". Also, some of the scenery along the bay was used in the story "Urashima Taro". The boat actually reminded me more of a floating Chinese restaurant that used to operate in Hawaii a long time ago (Oceania? Is it still around?).
At the hotel we stayed at, there was a nice garden area with a pond.
Have you ever seen one of these? They are called kemushi (hairy worms). If they touch you or if you get too close to them, you can get a reaction and break out into hives.
At the aquarium, we came upon these kuwagata (a type of beetle). If you find these in the wild around Japan, you can sell them to the pet stores for big bucks!
At the Mikimoto Pearl Island, there was a diving show. Here ama (pearl divers) dive in the water without any scuba gear except a mask. Some going as far down as 6meters (about 19 feet)! They don't even wear wet suits!
I was surprised that they jumped in the water with all the kurage (jellyfish).
In the Mikimoto museum, there were many beautiful sculptures and jewelry from around the world, plus Mikimoto's special collections.
And of course, there was a beautiful sunrise.
My next post will be about...the food...stay tuned!