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Japanese tradition holds that the practice of ama divers 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 divers 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.
It's supposed that the majority of ama are women because of how their bodies differ from men. The fat on a female body is distributed differently to men, which ensures that they can stay warmer in colder water.
In pop culture
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 diver Kissy Suzuki. The character was also portrayed in the film version.
- ^ Rahn, H.; Yokoyama, T. (1965). Physiology of Breath-Hold Diving and the Ama of Japan.. United States: National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council. pp. 369. ISBN 0309013410. http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/3279. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
- Martinez, D P (2004) Identity and Ritual in a Japanese Village University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824828172
- Mishimo, Yukio (1994) The Sound of Waves. Vintage. ISBN 978-0679752684
- Yoshiyuki Iwase (Photographer, 1904-2001)
- 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
- Welcome to Ama Cultural Village in Japanese
- Ama diver physiology articles