In Japan, craftsmen work just as meticulously on the interior and the exterior of a piece, its front and its back, its visible and invisible aspects. In the kitchen, the Japanese mostly leave foods in their purest form, keeping ingredients and flavours separate. The same holds true for music, where there is no harmonic structure [in the Western sense], and they refuse to combine sounds. This singular approach to life can also be found in the lifestyle of the Ama-San.
Through many centuries, the task of diving in Japan for algae, sea urchins, abalones, oysters and pearls, has been performed by women, the Ama-San. Without scuba tanks or any other gear to help them breathe underwater, their whole bodies are pushed to the limit. These dives have been undertaken by the Ama-San in Japan for over 2000 years. The Ama-San, literally, women of the sea, play a unique role in Japanese culture, where they are at once revered and misunderstood.
These photographs are the by-product of two trips to Japan to plan and direct a film with a group of Ama from the Ise-Shima Peninsula. The faces and locations are documented as personal notes. It is a cinematographic study, in spite of its ethnographic value. This sequence of images portrays the Ama-San from the fishing villages of Wagu, Ijika, Oosatsu and Toushijima.