Women @ Sea |ama|

There is no discussion of abalone in Japan is complete without considering the tradition of dive fishing by women named /ama/ of Ise who dive in the morning and the evening.

Abalones belong to the family haliotidae, the name of which is derived from the Greek words halios, meaning “sea,” and otos, meaning “ear.” There are 4 major species include kuro awabi, megai awabi, and madaka awabi in the south and Ezo awabi in the north.

Another distinguishing feature of ama diving is the seasonal variation. From May to around mid-September they mainly fish for abalone, sea urchin, and tokobushi abalone. Tengusa seaweed is taken from July to August. Japanese spiny lobster comes in season from December to April, and sea cucumber can be fished from November to December. The ama do not dive in January and February. In March they begin harvesting wakame seaweed, and May is the time for hijiki seaweed.