A fascinating look at the naked “mermaids” of Japan. The oyster fishing girls of the 1920s.
Japan in the ’20s, hundreds of women dived naked in search of oysters and pearls. With an enviable breath, they came to stay more than two minutes under water, even during the winter. Called Amas, these women were recorded by Iwase Yoshiyuki in your Kodak. Photographs are one of the only records of this ancient profession that became extinct a few decades later.
Using an eye mask and special slippers, women and girls, also known as mermaids, braved the seas for the entire Japanese coast. The reason they do this naked? While wetsuits not arrived in the country until 1950, cotton clothing hindered diving, and are uncomfortable when wet and is slow to dry.
2 minutes each dive in search of oysters was interspersed with short periods of respite. The marathon was made up to 60 times per day. Any effort, however, is paid. Within a few weeks…
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