LIFE
FORCE
The magazine of the photo-essay
August 2017 issue
Ama: Snail Divers
by Nina Poppe
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
Everyone in Japan knows them as ‘Ama-San’, a title that conveys a great deal of affection and admiration – and yet, even in the big cities, hardly anyone is aware of what these courageous and independent women of the seas are actually capable of. At an average age of 60, they make their living by hunting abalone, a delicacy prized particularly in East Asia. The ama look like mature mermaids who, instead of enjoying their golden years in leisure, continue to dive regularly as far as 20 meters down into the depths. Since time immemorial, the image of man as hunter has been the epitome of masculinity. Which makes it all the more amusing that, based on the experience that men become chilled in the water faster, the hunt for abalone has traditionally been a woman's domain in Japan. In her book ama, the Cologne photographer Nina Poppe spirits us away to a place
where women lead a very special life and there is apparently no room for men. Pictures were shot in Ise-Shima Japan in 2010.
Boat coming back from hunting.
Ama with lipstick preparing for diving.
Girl in beach shack.
Afternoon gardening.
First dive.
Girl on the beach with shells.
Ama beach huts.
Ama coming back from a beach dive.
Paradise island dive.
Ama back on the boat after diving session.
Waiting for return.
Ama after diving.
Awabi sea snails.
Waiting for the bus.
Underpants in the sun.
Ama with a big catch.
Workspace.
Laundry and flowers.
Girls at the river.
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