The (Female) Ama Divers of Japan

The Ama are predominantly female pearl divers from Japan, although their breed is dying out–although new Ama continue to be trained, it is now seen as a grandmother’s job. In a tradition purported to be 2,000 years old, the Ama dived in nothing but a loincloth up until the 1960s. Today, they wear a wetsuit at most. Although this is generally not one’s only job, it is a job that lasts a lifetime–the older divers are reputed to be able to dive the longest.

More can be read about them here, although I prefer to study the images of the Ama through the lens of photographer Yoshiyuki Iwase:

This photograph’s contrast between black and white, extreme posturing of the naked female body, reminds of of Helmut Newton’s fashion photography.

The nude female form in these photographs is presented with awe; their musculature seems asexual in this photo–almost a meditation on human strength. Whereas this:

is a dead ringer for contemporary Western pinup photography. It’s an interesting, mismatched photo series as a whole.

See them all here.

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