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Ama: Free-diving Fisherwomen

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Ama: Free-diving Fisherwomen


Meet these legendary ladies of the sea and share a seafood BBQ as cultural tourism

Toba Tourist Information Center



Ama (literally translated as “sea woman”) have been diving in Japan for shellfish, sea cucumbers and other delicacies for over 3,000 years. These fearless women free-dive up to 15 meters (50 feet) into the cold water, holding their breath for as long as 60 seconds at a time.
Ama are not as common as they once were, and today, Toba City on the Ise-Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture has the highest population of ama free divers in Japan. In Osatsu, a village just outside Toba, you can visit Hachiman, a seaside hut where ama prepare to go diving into the ocean, warm up after their diving sessions, eat, and socialize. Learn about the ancient and fascinating culture of this coastal region directly from these real life mermaids.
Chat with the ama as they grill scallops, spiny lobsters and abalone over a charcoal fire, sharing stories about their lifestyles and diving adventures. After eating, try on a traditional ama costume and have these ladies of the sea teach you one of their folk dances.
The cultural tourism experience lasts a little over an hour and you can choose from menus to suit a range of budgets, from a seafood snack to a luxury three course meal. Seafood and vegetables vary depending on the time of year and what the ama have caught that day. Halal and vegetarian diets are available.


How to get there

From Nagoya Station, take the train to Toba Station (about 1 hour 40 minutes). Hachiman is about 25 minutes by car from the station.


819 Ousatsu-cho, Toba-shi, Mie-ken


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