Cross Currents Home
Resources | About Us | 日本語サイト
Home Learn About Japan Learn About Japan-U.S. Cross Currents Learn About the U.S.

Wide angle photo looking up to the top of a tall building.
  1. The Work Group
  2. Office Arrangements
  3. Office Ladies (OL)
  4. Enterprise Unions in Japan
  5. Enterprise Union Cooperation
  6. Strikes Japanese-Style
  7. Sexual Harassment
  8. Separate Surnames for Married Couples
  9. “Mighty” Women: Police and the Military Self Defense Force
  10. Ama (Female Diver)
  11. Who Farms in Japanese Farm Households?
  12. San-Chan Nōgyō
  13. The Changing Income of Farm Households
Listen in English | Japanese Japanese View Article in English | Japanese
Women diving under water
Ama collecting seaweed around the Island of Shikine, 1950.
Photo from Mainichi Shimbun.
Ama (Female Diver)
While women participated in new occupations, some traditional occupations have continued to be passed down through families. The occupation of ama is one of them. Ama are women who skin-dive in the ocean to catch fish, and collect clams, pearl oysters, and seaweed. They can be found on islands and shores in various parts of Japan. The ama have a long history and they were described in the Manyōshū, an ancient book of Japanese poetry that was edited in the eighth century. It is said that ama stay under the water for about fifty seconds, but some can dive for more than a minute. Ama start diving as teenage girls, and many continue diving past the age of seventy. Ama used to dive wearing only a cotton cloth wrapped around their hips, but nowadays they dive wearing cotton shirts or wetsuits.
Download Podcast in English | Japanese
Document | Audio-Video | Chart | Picture | Map