Woman divers (ama)


Woman divers (ama)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Late Spring
***** Category: Humanity


ama 海女 (あま) woman diver
lit. "woman of the sea" / ama 泉郎 "seafolk’


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..... isodo 磯人(いそど, iso ama 磯海女(いそあま)
"woman of the sea shore"
iso nageki 磯嘆き(いそなげき)
"long deep breath on the sea shore"
when coming out of the water

oki ama, oki-ama 沖海女(おきあま)
"woman of the open sea"
kazuki かずき、moguri もぐり
kachido 陸人(かちど)、funado 船人(ふなど)

ama no fue 海女の笛(あまのふえ)
"flute of the ama diver"
when coming out of the water, they would breath out long making a sharp sound, like a flute

ama no koya 海女の小屋(あまのこや)
hut for the ama divers

They make a fire there and keep warm, drink hot tea and prepare some seafood.

. . . CLICK here for Photos 海女小屋!

isooke, iso-oke 磯桶(いそおけ)"bucket on the sea shore"
where they keep their prey and are fastened to the "inochizuna 命綱 " lifeline.

Now this is a name for seafood arranged in a large barrel, served in seaside hotels.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


The majority of ama are women.
Japanese tradition holds that the practice of ama divers may be 2,000 years old. Traditionally, and even as recently as the 1960s, ama dived wearing only a loincloth. Even in modern times, ama dive without scuba gear or air tanks, making them a traditional sort of free-diver.
Depending on the region, ama may dive with masks, fins, and torso-covering wetsuits at the most. Only divers who work for tourist attractions use white, partially transparent suits.

Ama are famous for pearl diving, but originally they dove for food like seaweed, shellfish, lobsters, octopus, and sea urchins — and oysters which sometimes have pearls.

Ama divers can keep diving well into old age. The older divers are generally able to stay submerged longer than the younger. Usually they also have another job, typically working on a farm.

It's supposed that the majority of ama are women because of how their bodies differ from men. The fat on a female body is distributed differently to men, which ensures that they can stay warmer in colder water.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Ama are privileged to eat the freshest seafood, right after they come out of the sea and share their catch.

. WASHOKU :Tsuboyaki 壷焼 (つぼやき)
turban shell fried in the conch

tekonezushi てこねずし . 手こねずし
fish sushi mixed with the hands

Red fish like katsuo bonito and maguro tuna are sliced for sashimi and marinated in soy sauce. Then they are mixed with sushi rice. Perilla leaves, ginger or other seaweed can be mixed. It started with the fishermen of the SHIMA region on their boats, who did not have much time for preparing meals and mixed it with their hands. The ama divers also eat this.

Specialities from Mie prefecture

Food served on board (funaryoori)

Awabi 鮑 (あわび, 鰒) abalone


The many ama divers along the shores of Japan are professional divers, who dive to support their daily life and sell what they take out of the sea.

They are not to be mixed up with diving for pleasure, as tourists enjoy.

moguri 潜り(もぐり) diving (for pleasure)
..... mizu kuguri 水潜り(みずくぐり)

kigo for all summer

. WKD : Summer on the Beach
Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Ishigami san 石神さん Stone Deity
at shrine Shinmei Jinja 神明神社, Toba, Mie

There is a small Shrine called "Ishigami-san" at the Shimmei Jinja Shrine.
The enshrined goddess"Ishigami-san"is said to grant a wish of all female visitors who offer prayers. This legend has attracted many women and continues to do so to this day.
Ama huts are popular touring spots where meals are served while enjoying friendly conversation with the divers.
Ishigami-san Haru Matsuri Festival (Osatsu)/ May 7th.
This festival is to pray for bountiful fishing season and fulfillment of one's aspirations. On this day, men cook and treat women in appreciation for women divers who have supported the households with their hard work.
source : tobakanko.jp

御守り amulet from Shinmei Jinja

Osatsu Ama Culture Museum
The fishing town of Ōsatsu has the highest population of ama (海女, "female diver") in the Toba-Shima region. The ama have been supporting their families as wives and mothers as well as economically by their hard, restless work. Even though they endure harsh working conditions and busy lives, the divers have always been happy with their lives by taking pride in being an ama and by spending heartfelt conversations with their companions in the diver huts (海女小屋, amagoya).
This museum provides you with an opportunity to get to know the history and life of Ōsatsu, nurtured by the kindness of the ama. Nearby is a Shinmei Shrine (神明神社, shinmei-jinja), also called Ishigami-san (石神さん, "Honorable Stone Goddess"), said to surely fulfill one wish to each of its female visitors.

source : tourismmiejapan.com


AMA - Die Taucherinnen von Japan

In vielen Fischerdörfern fahren die Männer zur See und die Frauen suchen in den flacheren Küstengebieten nach Meeresfrüchten, insbesondere Seeigeln, Abalonen, Oktopus und Seetang. Auch beim Ausfindigmachen der Perlen-Austern sind sie unentbehrlich.

AMA, die „Menschen des Meeres“, nur ausgestattet mit einem weißen Lendenschurz, einem Messer und einem Holzeimer an der Lebensleine, der gleichzeitig den Fang aufnimmt und als Schwimmer dient, sind als Nackttaucher schon seit mehr als 2000 Jahren in den Wassern Asiens auf der Suche nach Lebensmitteln. Inzwischen verwenden sie auch modernere Ausrüstungen mit Taucherbrillen und Taucheranzügen um sich warmzuhalten. Die weiße Farbe ihrer Ausrüstung sollte die Haifische abwehren.
Nach dem Auftauchen blies die Taucherin die Luft mit einem langen lauten fiuuuuu aus, um die Atmung wieder zu regulieren. Dieser unverwechselbare Ton wird „Pfeife der Küstentaucherinnen“ genannt.
Die Gedichtsammlung Manyoshu 万葉集 aus dem 8. Jahrhundert berichtet schon von diesen Taucherinnen.

Das reichliche Körperfett des Frauenkörpers bietet mehr Schutz vor dem Auskühlen im kalten Wasser, so konnten Frauen längere Zeit hintereinander tauchen, bevor sie sich in einer Strandhütte wieder am Feuer wärmen müssen.
Beim Tauchen von einem Holzschiff aus steht im Boot ein Holzkohlenofen. Auf dem Boot wartet der Ehemann mit der Lebensleine, and der die Frau mit ihrem Holzeimer angebunden ist.

Viele Taucherinnen haben den Beruf von ihrer Mutter gelernt und üben ihn voller Stolz bis ins hohe Alter hin aus. Auf der Halbinsel Izu, wo sie oft nach Agar-Agar tauchen, werden sie „kaito“ genannt, auf Okinawa „uminchu“.

Gabi Greve


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inochizuna tarumite ama no jizai kyoo

the lifeline
slackens .. the freedom sphere
of an ama diver

Tsuda Kiyoko (Sayako) 津田清子


hi no gotoku akago naki-iru ama no koya

like a fire
the baby cries ...
hut of the divers

Hiro Hasei 廣波青 (1931 - )

He comes from Mie prefecture, where the pearl divers are common. Mikimoto is in Mie.

Mikimoto Pearls from Japan

みきもと幸吉 Mikimoto Kokichi (1858 - 1954)


Kisakata no sakura wa nami ni uzumorete
hana no ue kogu ama no tsuribune

At Kisakata
A cherry tree is covered
At times by the waves;
Fishermen must row their boats
Above the cherry blossoms.

西行法師 Saigyo, tr. Donald Keene


mizu no awa no kiete ukise wo wataru mi ni
urayamashiki wa ama no tsuribune

"I who must journey
Across a world vanishing
Like foam on the waves,
What I long for most of all
Is a little fishing boat."

source : 'Masukagami' (Book XVI)

Related words

***** Woman, Women (onna, saotome) and related KIGO

. 海人 (能) Ama - The Woman Diver .
Noh play from temple Shidoji in Shikoku

- - - - - not to mix with
. ama 尼 Buddhist Nun .


1 comment:

Ga said...

HOKKU by Matsuo Basho

ama no kao / mazu mi raruru ya / keshi no hana

ama no ya wa / koebi ni majiru / itodo kana

kodai sasu / yanagi suzushi ya / ama ga tsuma

sode yogosu ran / tanishi no ama no / hima o na mi

Suma no ama no / yasaki ni naku ka / hototogisu