Ama - Mie Prefecture’s women of the sea
Obama Tourism Bureau
For more than 2,000 years, ama women divers have explored the sea bed to gather shellfish, without the aid of scuba equipment. Often romanticized and always admired, some ama can free dive to depths of around 20 meters, holding their breath as they search for seafood and more.
When last counted in 2017, Ise-Shima, in Mie Prefecture, had 660 working ama divers, the highest number of all regions in Japan. To hear their stories and enjoy the wealth of seafood they gather, visitors are invited to Satoumian, a faithful replica of an ama hut, where divers traditionally rest and warm themselves by a fireplace.
Satoumian is open for lunch and dinner and can host up to 77 people in its three eateries, all with an ocean view. Mingle with locals and try fresh catches that could include abalone, spiny lobsters, and turban shells, grilled on an open hearth and served by an ama diver.
A nearby museum space also offers exhibits showcasing the history of ama, who keep their form of fishing sustainable by maintaining the tradition of free diving, limiting hours and not harvesting undeveloped sea creatures.
Prices range from 3,850 yen to around 8,800 yen per person, depending on what menu is chosen.
About 1 hour by bus from Ugata Station: take a bus bound for Goza and alight at Azuri-hama bus stop, from where it is a 3-minute walk to Satoumian. Alternatively, 30 minutes by taxi from Ugata Station.
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