For over 2000 years, Japanese women in coastal villages would make their living diving into the ocean searching for oysters and abalone, a pearl producing sea snail. These ladies known as the Ama, literally meaning â€œwomen of the sea,â€ would dive into the Pacific waters for minutes at a time, often in freezing conditions. The modern wetsuit had yet to be developed so the Ama relied on their own body heat to keep them alive. Talk about super women.
Photographer Iwase Yoshiyuki was able to capture this ancient tradition before it died out almost completely in the mid 1900s. Visit Messy Nessy’s blog “The Last Japanese Mermaids” and “Japanese Mermaids: Ancient Pearl Hunters of the Sea” for the full story.