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Prologue

The place is the south end of the Izu Peninsula, southwest of the Kanto (Tokyo) area. The women are Ama--diving girls who are trained to dive into shallow water and reef areas and retrieve shellfish and other marine life used in gourmet seafood meals. It was a hard and dangerous occupation, and the girls used no special equipment. Most of them worked for a labor boss, who took a cut of their wages (the man on the left is not the "boss," but the attendant to watch over the women). The occupation gradually vanished after the war--these were among the last of the tribe.

(All photographs were presented to me by a village photographer in Kamogawa, Chiba--considerably north of the Izu peninsula locus of the pictures.)

4 women and 1 man seated near a fire on the beach

297. Ama Fishing Girls and their Attendant

(Photo by Japanese photographer)

2 topless women carry buckets through the surf

298. Ama 2
Ama women coming in from the dive with the shellfish in the containers.

(Photo by Japanese photographer)

two photos of two different women, each is only wearing shorts and a hat; both are posed near the sea

299. Ama 3 and 4
Two Portraits of Ama women, standing on a ledge, ready to dive, and posing in a wave-cut opening in the rock

(Photo by Japanese photographer)