Ama means "sea woman".
Japanese tradition holds that the practice of ama may be 2,000 years old. Traditionally, and even as recently as the 1960s, ama dived wearing only a loincloth. Even in modern times, ama dive without scuba gear or air tanks, making them a traditional sort of free-diver.
Ama can keep diving well into old age. The older divers are generally able to stay submerged longer than the younger. Usually they also have another job, typically working on a farm. Some Japanese people believe that the majority of ama are women because of how their bodies differ from men: The fat on a female body is distributed differently from on men.
- In the Ian Fleming James Bond series, Bond travels to Japan in the novel You Only Live Twice. He meets and becomes involved with ama Kissy Suzuki. The character was also portrayed in the film version.
- The NHK morning television drama Amachan is centered on the ama.
- The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, an 1814 woodblock print by Japanese artist Hokusai, depicts a young ama diver entwined sexually with a pair of octopuses.
- Rahn, H.; Yokoyama, T. (1965). Physiology of Breath-Hold Diving and the Ama of Japan. United States: National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council. p. 369. ISBN 0-309-01341-0. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
- Martinez, D P (2004) Identity and Ritual in a Japanese Village University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2817-2
- Mishimo, Yukio (1994) The Sound of Waves. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-679-75268-4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ama divers.|
- English: United Nations University (2009) digital video "Where the sea whistle echoes": Ama, legendary women divers of Japan facing climate change and an uncertain future Accessed 1 December 2009
- Ama Cultural Village in Japanese
- Ama diver physiology articles at the Rubicon Foundation