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Ama - the Japanese pearl divers

Ama, meaning ‘woman of the sea’ are amazing Japanese pearl divers. These women specialise in free diving up to 25 meters down into cold water without using oxygen tanks or other breathing equipment. Ama used special techniques to hold their breath for up to 2 minutes at a time; they would gather abalone, seaweed and other shellfish.   photos by Yoshiyuki Iwase While traditional ama divers wore only a fundoshi (loincloth) for easy and quick movement in the water and a tenugui (bandanna) around their head to cover their hair, that meant that the ama were almost skinny-dipping. Those divers who descended the deepest would also wear a weighted belt around their waist to aid their descent. The most important tool...

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