The Aesthetics Hidden Deep Inside the Sea of Japan
For millennia, mankind has stared at the vast depths of the ocean wondering about what lies beneath. To dive was to gamble, and for the lucky, they would happen upon a sphere of mystic beauty. The illustrious pearl, mentioned even in Japanese myth and cherished for more than 1,000 year, is the only animal-born gem in the world. The alabaster glow that they radiate is unique to each individual pearl. Ago Bay in Ise-Shima is known for its lustrous, high quality pearls. The leaders at the G7 Summit wore lapel pins that were embellished with pearls cultured here.
Donned in white, these women have given grown accustomed to working in seawater and salty air. One final breath and they dive deep into the water to scour the seafloor. No oxygen tank. No fancy equipment. They are the Ama, the female pearl free-divers of Japan.
These ladies are the embodiment of strong women, and this practice dates back thousands of years. The original Ama used to catch fish and collect seashells, but when the culturing of pearls started in 1893, they used their skills to collect oysters and gather Akoya pearls.
Although advancements in culturing techniques have made free-diving obsolete, the spirit and tradition of the Ama have continued to this day near Mikimoto Pearl Island. You can even see it for yourself! In addition to their impressive performance, you can get a wealth of information at the pearl museum on the island. You can even get yourself or a loved one a pearl or a set of pearls, if you feel inclined to do so.
Mikimoto Pearl Island's Pearl Museum is built for pearl enthusiasts, and is a very popular tourist attraction for visiting foreigners.
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This photo was taken at Mikimoto Pearl Island during the Ama's diving demonstration.