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
Toba Tourist Information Center
Ama (lit. ‘sea woman’) have been diving in Japan for shellfish, sea cucumbers and other delicacies for over 3,000 years. Historically wearing just a fundoshi loincloth and tenugi bandana to cover their hair, these fearless women free-dive up to 15 meters (50 feet) into the cold water, holding their breath for as long as sixty seconds at a time.
Not as common as they once were, Toba on the Ise-Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture has the highest population of ama divers in Japan. In Osatsu, a village just outside Toba, you can visit Hachiman, a seaside hut where ama prepare for getting in the ocean, warm up post dive, eat, and socialise. 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 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 catered for.
How to get there
About 25 minutes by free 'ama' shuttle bus from Toba Station.
Tokai Region | JNTO Official Website
Mie Prefecture | JNTO Official Website