Collecting pearls is a 2000 years old tradition in Japan, most of the divers being women (called Ama), because it seems that women are more resistant than men to immersion in cold water.
Over a century ago, Kokichi Mikimoto, the inventor of pearl cultivation, was helped by the Ama divers. They were diving to collect the oysters and, after the oysters were seeded to produce pearls, the Ama were diving again to put them back on the seafloor.
Of course, today the pearl cultivation is automated, but on the Mikimoto Pearl Island in Toba, Mie Prefecture, the Ama divers are honored: this is the only place where you can still see them at work like in the old times, in their traditional white garments, without any diving equipment. It is a show I enjoyed a lot…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: