Ise-Shima: Women Divers Favored by the Gods *RERUN
The Shima Peninsula is located in the south of Japan's main island Honshu. It is a great habitat for living things and a treasure trove of high-class seafood. In this region, fishing has carried out by skin divers for many centuries. These divers are all female and are called "Ama" in Japanese. Legends tell that long time ago, the local Ise-Shima sea was chosen by a goddess of the sun. This is the story of the powerful women of the sea who live in Ise-Shima, and the people who keep traditions alive.

Women of the Treasure Sea

The women divers are hard workers. They say that if an Ama can earn enough a living to support her husband, she is a full-fledged diver. Armed with trained skills and experience, the Ama catch expensive seafood including lobsters and abalone in no time. Seafood taken from the sea of Ise-Shima has been considered to be sacred food since ancient days. At the Ise Jingu, a shrine located about 15 kilometers inland from the sea. Meal offerings to the deity include rice, seasonal vegetables, and always some seafood from Ise-Shima.

The Place Where Cultured Pearls Originated

Many pearls are also harvested from this sea. Ago Bay, where beautiful coves line the sea of Ise-Shima, has been known as the place where cultured pearls originated. Floating in the sea are pearl oysters in which pearls are farmed. The pearls are grown in the rich sea over a period of 3 years. In a Pearl Wedding celebrating 30 years of marriage, attendees bless the couple with a shower of small pearls instead of rice.

The Island Traditions

600 large and small islands dot the sea of Ise-Shima. And each one has its unique culture. At the island of Toshijima, nearly 300 houses stand in a small area of land by the sea. This close distance between neighbors helps create ties among the island's inhabitants, which are stronger than other regions. When boys turn 15, a non-relative adult becomes their guardian, and they start a relationship with the guardian just like a family. There are deep connections between the people because it is a small island. The traditions of Toshijima will live on for evermore.