HOME

Women Working in the Ocean

Women Working in the Ocean
There are women living on the blessings of the ocean. Women who free-dive into ocean to collect expensive seafood such as abalone and turban shells, and seaweed are called Ama(female diver). The history of Ama goes way back, and tools to collect abalone were found in ruins from about the first century. Today, women who dive without diving equipment can only be found in Jeju Island , Korea, and Japan; and the fishing culture that has been handed down from olden days to today existing in the two countries with different ethnic groups, though in close proximity, is considered a mystery in folklore studies. The number of traditional Ama free-divers continues to decrease from largest number of Ama divers. A survey conducted in 2014 found that of the approximate 1,850 female divers in 17 prefectures in Japan, 761 live in Mie Prefecture.

Ama hut

Passing Down Ama Culture
The longer Ama divers are under water, the larger their catch, and sometimes they would dive with weight, such as stones, placed on their bodies. It is a hard work to repeatedly dive into the water 2 minutes at a time before coming up for air. When they come up from their long, deep dive, you can hear them take a breath above the water. This somewhat lonely whistling sound comes from the Ama divers unique breathing method called Isobue(sea whistle). When they come out of ocean, they warm themselves with fire and heated stones. Ama divers show appreciation for the blessings of the ocean. They preserve the resources by never overexploiting them and adhere to fishing style from the olden days. The tools they use are a wooden tub and a metal tool to scrape the shells off the rocks. These tools are an important part of their personal possessions, and they take them when they get married. The Ama culture is being handed down from mothers to daughters and from seniors to juniors.

Ueno Tenjin Festival

Colored by History and Culture
During the Edo Period(1603-1868), when the lives of commoners became stable and the town culture became colorful, culture was fostered and festivals were held. The Iga Ueno region, located 60 km northwest of Ise, where agricultural fields spread, is known for the Ueno Tenjin Festival Devil’s Parade and the Danjiri float procession, which is registered as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. Festivals originated as events to worship deities, and this festival plays the role of linking people. The Ise Pilgrimage that became a huge boom during the Edo Period has left behind "Okage Yokocho" located in front of Ise Jingu, Where retro buildings were relocated to recreate the atmosphere of the past. Visitors can enjoy food from old established restaurants alongside special products from more recent times, history, customs, and humanity all in one place.

Ninjas Living Behind the Scene of Time
Ninjas are known to have used mystical arts, such as Mizukumo(nijna water-walking shoes) and Katon-no-jutsu(fire skill) to hide themselves using fire, as seen in movies and animation. Ninjas are individuals or groups that served feudal lords by Ninjas are known to have used mystical arts, such as Mizukumo(nijna water-walking shoes) and Katon-no-jutsu(fire skill) to hide themselves using fire, as seen in movies and animation. Ninjas are individuals or groups that served feudal lords by spying and sabotage from the Asuka period(592-710) to the Edo period(1603-1868).The reason Iga Ninja came under the limelight is for helping Tokugawa Ieyasu to go through Iga Province at the transition point during the late Warring Period when Ieyasu was attacked by a group of rioters. Ninjas protected Ieyasu from the attack by the rioters. They were taken in to the Bakufu government and were given the harsh task of serving as frontline soldiers when attacking castles. In ancient times, there were manufactured. This can be seen at the Iga Ichinomiya-Festival in the worship of the deity of steel. During the Edo Period, there were sections of castle towns all over Japan where groups of ninjas lived. Iga City has the white Iga Ueno Castle and the south side of the castle was the home of ninjas. There are homes that remind visitors of ninja towns, and the castle town is filled with the atmosphere of old Japan. See the world of ninjas that lived in history out of the spotlight of history.

Iga Kumihimo

People Living with Tradition
The Ise and Iga areas are full of people who preserve the craft skills handed down for generations. Ise Katagami(dyeing stencil) has history of over 1,000 years. They are used for dying kimonos such as Yuzen, yukata and Komon with designs and patterns. A chisel is used to carefully cut patterns in Japanese paper treated with persimmon juice dye, which requires the highest skill, patience and endurance. At the end of Edo Period, the German doctor Siebold took home a large amount of patterns, which greatly affected the Western art thereafter. The modern luxury brands in Europe still use the pattern similar to Ise Patterns.

Iga Kumihimo(braided cord) was brought into Japan from the continent along with Buddhism during the Nara Period(710-794) and was used for scriptures and Buddhist priests’ stoles.Today, braids are created using mainly silk threads with gold and silver threads for Kimono cords and bracelets.Designated as a national traditional craft, Iga Kumihimo, is hand braided on a traditional braiding table, and about half of all kumihimo braids are produced in Iga.

Ise Netsuke(miniature wooden sculpture) is clasp used to hang a tobacco container or a pill box from an obi belt. It was a fashion to carry tobacco containers during the Edo Period and led to huge production of netsuke. Extremely hard local lumber "Japanese box tree" was decorated with beautifully detailed carvings. It is known for its durability. Other traditional items include Ise Shunkei lacquer, paper lanterns, Ise toys and more. The skills of master craftsmen are handed down in this climate.

Top of page